Next month I will have the pleasure of introducing Amy Matthews, the award-winning Australian author of End of the Night Girl (Wakefield Press, 2011.) Amy works at the University of Adelaide; she is a Research Fellow of the discipline of English and Creative Writing. As the Research Librarian for this group, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss Amy’s novel with her, and to sit in on some of her lectures, when she discussed post-modernism, creative non-fiction and the work of Michael Cunningham ( particularly The Hours, both text and film.)
Amy’s debut novel won the Adelaide Festival Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript in 2010; it was also nominated for the Australian / Vogel prize. The book was short-listed this year for the Dobbie Award, a prize that celebrates Australian women’s writing. It is currently short-listed for the Colin Roderick Award.
The novel is a powerful narrative about the long shadows cast by the Holocaust. It begins in late 20th-century Adelaide, where Molly, a young waitress, is struggling to make sense of her life (marked by dead-end jobs, unsatisfactory love affairs and a strained relationship with her family.) Molly’s secret life as a writer is a vitally important part of the story: she is consumed with the need to write about the Holocaust, taking the life of a Polish woman, Gienia, as her starting-point. Gradually, the character of Gienia comes to dominate Molly’s life – in a kind of sinister haunting that makes for deeply unsettling reading.
End of the Night Girl is a brilliant novel: highly recommended.