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Claire-Louise Bennett

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“Pond’s real achievement, in making us look for the ‘real’ narrator – and narrative – is to make us see everything around us and the things we often overlook, including and especially ourselves. Great literature doesn’t point out where to look but how to see everything in a new light, as though we have made the discovery ourselves in a kind of imaginary derive.” The Australian

Bennett’s debut is a slim volume that eschews traditional narrative conventions. It may be read as 20 mostly interlinked stories or as a novella fractured into twenty parts. It is narrated by a nameless woman living in a small cottage in rural Ireland. Its sections vary in length, with some as short as a few sentences, and each offers the reader insight into the quiet domestic existence of Bennett’s narrator. Instead of relating a straightforward narrative she progresses via digression: celebrating the arrangement of fruits and vegetables in bowls on the window-sill, lamenting the broken knobs on her kitchen’s mini-stove, pondering the deeper meaning of a novel about the last woman on Earth, recalling past sexual misadventures and experiments in gardening plots. The reader inhabits the narrator’s consciousness, gradually creating a picture of a young woman of uncommon intelligence who has left the world of jobs and adult responsibility in the hope of recovering some more enchanting relation of self to world. The result is a series of tableaus – funny, acute, melancholy, misanthropic – whose charm and beauty lays in their oblique angle of approach.


“Claire-Louise Bennett’s remarkable debut is dense with the sensuous texture of life… Pond is unlike anything else in contemporary fiction, delving beneath the surfaces that hold most novels together.” The Sydney Morning Herald

“Of course it doesn’t actually matter what this gorgeous little book is. It’s beautiful, that’s all. Bennett has a thrilling way with sentences and thoughts” The Saturday Paper

“One of the most striking aspects of this extraordinary book is how well we get to know the narrator – whose brain and body we inhabit – yet how little we know about her” The Guardian

“An astounding debut” Qantas Magazine

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