Book Review: Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey

Award-winning author Ceridwen Dovey's latest novel is insightful and innovative.

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).

Read: Book Review: The Imitator by Rebecca Starford

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
ISBN: 9781760895365
Format: Paperback
Categories: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 304
Release Date: 3 November 2020
RRP: $32.99

Vanessa Francesca
About the Author
Vanessa Francesca is a writer living in Melbourne. She has an Arts (Honours) degree in English Literature. She has previously written for community papers and interviewed guests on community radio. She was a writer and producer for The Melbourne Model Musical, which ran for two seasons at the comedy festival. She is currently a fiction reader for Overland, and a Literary Associate with MKA: The Theatre of New Writing. She is working on a novel and a collection of short stories.