Cold Enough For Snow (Giramondo 2022) is a slim novella by Jessica Au, an almost stream of consciousness read that is one continuous piece of observational writing, separated only by some spaces between sections. This is a highly literary novel that will resonate with readers who enjoy being immersed in the minutia of daily life, the small details of food and weather, of clothes and objects.
Ostensibly it is a simple story about a young woman who organises to take her mother on a trip to Japan, and it describes their days – art galleries, museums, temples, restaurants. As is often the case with highly literary works, nothing much happens in terms of plot. All of the focus is on the characters and the setting. We are exposed to the complexities of the relationship between mother and daughter. There are hints at much left unsaid. The book is highly descriptive and evocative. It is at once an example of how everyday activities and events can be depicted in a literary sense, imbued with meaning, while also demonstrating that a story can be gentle and curious and tender, leaving the tension to lie subtly under the surface. As with all books, this novel will be difficult for some readers who crave action and plot, but devoured and treasured by others that are happy to swim around in a sea of imagery and beautiful sentences. Told by the daughter in first person, it is a glimpse into her heart and mind, and a meditation about the dynamics between her and her mother.