Questions of Travel

By Michelle de Kretser Allen & Unwin


Michelle de Kretser

Judges' report


Following two very different characters in parallel as their lives move closer together along very different paths, this ambitious novel is a prolonged meditation on the meaning of travel, and on the ways in which humanity has learned to negotiate time and space in the 21st century, and the part played by the internet in the altered ways we now think about communication and travel. It follows the life of Australian Laura, who lives a restless, rootless existence with no meaningful family ties or strong attachment to place, and of Sri Lankan Ravi, whose life is quite the opposite, and indeed has such an excess of meaning that it spills over into unimaginable violence and bewildering exile.

The novel pays particular attention to such contemporary concerns as Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, and as the neoliberal attitudes and values that have crept into most areas of working life. Its wry, low-key wit is something that her fans will recognise from earlier novels. As with all accomplished novels of ideas, de Kretser uses her articulate, thinking characters as vehicles for her contemplation and intellectual dissection of the world.