Ceridwen Dovey’s novel Life After Truth is an engaged, insightful and innovative novel that asks the big questions about happiness at middle age.
Dovey grew up in South Africa and has since moved to Sydney, where she worked for a number of years for the Institute For Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney. This inquisitive spirit illuminates her fiction and animates her journalism: she is the winner of two recent prizes for science journalism.
‘Dovey’s writing is the most distinctive, though, when it animates the past…’
Her first novel, Blood Kin (2007), is set in an imaginary African conflict and, with meticulously observed detail and psychological depth, observes a coup from multiple perspectives. She has written incisively about her mother’s relationship to African writing in a long essay published by Black Inc. on JM Coetzee. Dovey’s writing is the most distinctive, though, when it animates the past, as in her epistolary novel In The Garden Of The Fugitives (2018).
The achievement of her latest novel, Life After Truth, is more like the achievement of her Readings’ Prize winning short story collection Only The Animals (2014). Only The Animals is a unique short story collection that animates the spirits of a number of animals as though they have been reincarnated by different souls who have suffered memorable deaths. Often the animals perform military or scientific roles of a kind you can imagine an academic of sustainable technologies encountering.
Life After Truth however, inhabits the lives of its middle aged protagonists as compassionately as their animal predecessors. The story follows a group of friends who meet again at a fifteen year Harvard University reunion.
‘Life After Truth is a novel of the moment by an author who can see the life in the past as well as the challenges of the future.’
The novel contains tender portraits of stay at home mothering, gemology, primary school principaling, and even features cameos from the contemporary world in the form of an actress and a politician’s son. A lesbian happiness researcher who’s lover is in the process of building a humanoid robot based on her partner brings alive the ambivalences and possibilities of post-humanism, while politics is brought starkly to life by an amusing and dramatic denouement.
Life After Truth is a novel of the moment by an author who can see the life in the past as well as the challenges of the future.
Rating: 4½ stars out of 5 ★★★★☆
Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Categories: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: 3 November 2020