Heat and Light

By Ellen van Neerven UQP


Ellen van Neerven

Judges' report


This unusually structured collection of stories is divided into three, each named for some elemental quality in nature: Heat, Water, Light. They are environmental metaphors that serve as rich touchstones for the layered meanings of individual stories. ‘Heat’ is a sequence of closely interlinked family stories; ‘Water’, a futuristic novella, is kind of ecological speculative fiction and a very unusual love story; ‘Light’ is a collection of stand-alone stories, though certain themes and subjects recur here as they do throughout the book.

Van Neerven moves with ease between realism and fantasy, using elements of myth and mysticism in her storytelling. From one story to the next, the content is always rich and suggestive and the writing is always beautiful and clever. Each of these stories is told with passion and conviction; van Neerven writes with the confidence, maturity, and subtlety of someone twice her age, and with startling originality.

Further reading


Reviews:

‘[van Neerven] writes with the confidence, maturity and subtlety of someone twice her age, and with startling originality.’ – Kerryn Goldsworth, Sydney Morning Herald

‘Many writers attempt to convey the sense of foreboding that exists ‘out there’, beyond the big cities and seaboards of the country. Some fail. Few succeed to the extent that exists between the pages ofHeat and Light. The maturity displayed by van Neerven is evident immediately.’ – Tony Birch, Readings

‘[van Neerven] establishes herself here as a writer of imagination and intelligence, not afraid to mix fantastic visions with the heat of desire or the need to belong. This is a compelling and revelatory collection.’ – Linda Funnell, Newtown Review of Books

‘[T]he writing is at once sharp, edgy and personal, direct and powerful in its honesty and intimacy … This is a very fine debut from a talented writer.’ – David Gaunt, Books+Publishing

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