Skip to content

The World Without Us

by Mireille Juchau

Why We Love It:

After reading The World Without Us you could turn the book over and start again. It’s one of those novels that stays with you long after reading. Poignant and sad, yet poetic and uplifting, it’s truly a novel of its time.

A North Coast hinterland community is in crisis after a commune mysteriously burns down. Bees are dying; the air and water is polluted, and the soil is degraded from overuse and mining. The Müller family is in turmoil too – mother Evangeline is acting strangely after losing her beloved youngest child, Pip. Her beekeeper husband Stefan is losing his colonies to unknown malaises, and adolescent daughters Tess and Meg grieve for their sister, but also for their mother who disappears each day to who knows where.

Other fascinating characters are the Sydney schoolteacher who dresses in his deceased mother’s clothes as a way of dealing with her death, the drunken hippie Nora and doomsayer survivalist Tom. They’re a cast of characters we come to know and love by the novel’s close, drawn with honesty but also subtle humour.

At the heart of the novel is a mystery that’s not solved until the final pages. What happens in the bee community is a subtle reflection of the Müller family and the whole community – one thing goes awry and everything is affected. The World Without Us touches on infidelity, love, loss and grief but also healing, hope and what it means to be human in the contemporary world.

The World Without Us could be described as ‘climate change fiction’ in the mould of Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour. But, as with that novel, it’s the characters that drive the narrative, not any simplistic political message, as seen when even beekeeper and organic farmer Stefan is tempted by the lure of money for mining rights to his property.

Juchau’s previous novels, Burning In and Machines For Feelings, were shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. We can’t help but feel that The World Without Us will go beyond the shortlists.

 

 

 

 

 

EndFragment


Videos



About Mireille Juchau

Mireille Juchau is a Sydney-based writer of novels, short fiction, essays, scripts and reviews. Her third novel, The World Without Us will be published internationally by Bloomsbury in Australia in August 2015, the UK and US in 2016. Her second novel, Burning In (Giramondo Publishing, 2007),  was published in France – Le révélateur (Mercure de France, 2012) and Croatia – Potamanjivanje (Hrvatsko filolosko, 2013). In Australia Burning In was shortlisted for the 2008 Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Age Book of the Year Award and the Nita B. Kibble Award. Mireille’s first novel Machines for Feeling (University of Queensland Press, 2001) was shortlisted for the 1999 Vogel/Australian Literary Award. Mireille’s short fiction, plays, art reviews and essays have appeared in international and Australian anthologies and journals including the Times Literary Supplement, Picador New Writing 4, Meanjin, Heat Magazine and The New Orleans Review.  She has a PhD in writing and literature and teaches at universities and in the community.



Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *