Where the Light Falls


Where the Light Falls


Shortlisted for the 2017 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the NSW Premier’s Awards

NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Judges’ comments: ‘Where the Light Falls is brimming with virtuoso depictions…This compelling narrative takes an honest and intimate look at grief and memory. Beautifully written, with astute observations, this novel takes us through a landscape of loss, healing and the nature of art.’

‘Where the Light Falls could be described as a literary thriller – a detective story of the psyche…Shirm writes with an artist’s eye: composition and focus deftly delineate the narrative; lighting is refracted through Andrew’s subjectivity, slowly clarifying the opaque and illuminating the ‘terrible’ dark. Metaphors are particular and often exquisite – a reaching for subtle precision…’ Australian Book Review

‘Written with a remarkably mature, deft and assured touch…Gradually a complex jigsaw puzzle is revealed…Shirm gives us, like breadcrumbs on a trail, a drop of knowledge here and there…Shirm handles human complexity and frailty well. She gives us, with compassion, the occasionally depressing truth that everyone is simply trying to do their best with the knowledge they have at the time… this is a moving and compassionate novel with a lot to say about human morals and responsibilities.’ The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Shirm’s debut…was deftly handled and her latest effort confirms she’s just as adept at long-form fiction…. the characters are finely etched and well-lit against the sombre backdrop of events…It’s a book that’s interested in damage, particularly that which is resolutely hidden from others….Where the Light Falls is a quiet, contemplative novel. Shirm writes with understated precision and though her descriptions are eco­no­mically deployed, they are arresting and sensuous.’ The Weekend Australian

‘This is a well crafted and beautifully executed novel of subtlety and depth. An exploration of the self and grief, it’s also about the way art can be a means of speaking when the words are too painful to say.’ The Big Issue

‘Life and art explosively collide in this magnificent, deeply moving novel.’ 4.5 out of 5. Arts Hub

‘…a delicate literary novel of ideas’ Booksplus, ABC Radio National

‘True to her thesis on good photography, Shirm shows a flair for narrative composition, deftly describing what is inside and outside of the frame, maintaining a strong focus on story and character, directing our attention to where the light falls.’ Sydney Arts Guide

‘Deeply moving and insightful.’ Press Reader

‘Shirm is a writer of deft skill. Her prose is gentle, uncluttered, and suffusedwith a compassionate, clear-eyed intelligence. Delicate, restrained and sensitive, Where the Light Falls is nonetheless steadfast in its examination of our responsibilities as artists, and as people’. Peggy Frew, author of Hope Farm

‘In lean, elegant prose Shirm explores the silences and mysteries that shape the artist’s mind and work. The novel’s landscapes are vivid and charged—the mystical Lake George, the frozen streets of a scarred Berlin. Against these atmospheric backdrops guilt and regret, memory and sensation, art and life collide. Through her acutely observed portrait of Andrew, Shirm asks how deeply the artist must know himself before he can make art from the lives of others’. Mireille Juchau, author of The World Without Us and Burning In




Listen to an interview with Kate Evans on ABC Radio National’s Book Plus program.

You can read my ‘Books that Changed Me’ piece for the Fairfax papers here.

My interview with 2SER’s Final Draft program can be also be downloaded.

Published by gretchenshirm

Sydney writer and critic. Author of Having Cried Wolf.

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