Cold Enough for Snow: A Novel by Jessica Au


Winner of the inaugural Novel Prize, an elegant and subtle exploration of the mysteries of our relationships to others

A mother and daughter travel from abroad to meet in Tokyo: they walk along the canals through the autumn evenings, escape the typhoon rains, share meals in small cafes and restaurants, and visit galleries to see some of the city’s most radical modern art. All the while, they talk: about the weather, horoscopes, clothes, and objects, about family, distance, and memory. But uncertainties abound. Who is really speaking here―is it only the daughter? And what is the real reason behind this elliptical, perhaps even spectral journey? At once a careful reckoning and an elegy, Cold Enough for Snow questions whether any of us speak a common language, which dimensions can contain love, and what claim we have to truly know another’s inner world.

Selected from more than 1,500 entries, Cold Enough for Snow won the Novel Prize, a new, biennial award offered by New Directions, Fitzcarraldo Editions (UK), and Giramondo (Australia), for any novel written in English that explores and expands the possibilities of the form

Editorial Reviews


“Au’s writing ebbs along effortlessly and poetically.”
The Australian

“Jessica Au is a new talent to be watched.”
Romy Ash, Australian Book Review

“Rarely have I been so moved, reading a book: I love the quiet beauty of Cold Enough for Snow and how, within its calm simplicity, Jessica Au camouflages incredible power.”
Edouard Louis

“Flawed understanding, consolation, and insufficiency all infuse this compelling, unsettling novel reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts or Rachel Cusk’s Outline Trilogy. A beautifully observed book, written in precise, elegant prose that contains a wealth of deep feeling.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“On a trip to Japan, a mother and daughter circle each other quietly. There is no tension, no snap, but every exchange ― about souvenirs and restaurant menus and their childhood memories ― is laden with pressure, a potential missed opportunity for bonding…Cold Enough for Snow observes the invisible thread between parent and child as it twists and knots and occasionally goes slack.”
Hillary Kelly, Vulture

“Au’s is a book of deceptive simplicity, weaving profound questions of identity and ontology into the fabric of quotidian banality…What matters, the novel reassures us, is constantly imbricated with the everyday, just as alienation and tender care can coexist in the same moment.”
Claire Messud, Harper’s

“Quiet and crisp like a clear winter morning…a world of melancholy and dissolving identity.”
Shane Anderson, 032c

“Jessica Au’s slim, spectral novel Cold Enough for Snow…deftly uses stream of consciousness to explore the legacy of inherited family traits and the difficulty of breaking away.”
Tobias Grey, The New York Times

“Au’s novel is perhaps most masterly in the way it evokes our dissociation from desire―our own and other people’s…we can sense it in the soft, patient warmth of Au’s prose, which sometimes feels attuned to truths just out of the narrator’s reach.”
Peter C. Baker, The New Yorker

“One of the novella’s neat turns lies in how precisely and matter-of-factly it narrates events that are – as we come to realize – anything but. Au is fascinated by the question of knowledge, especially the knowledge shared – or not – between two people.”
Declan Fry, The Sydney Morning Herald

“Au’s calm, unrelenting focus would be hard to take over a longer book – but this novella is graceful and precise. Like the narrator fine-tuning the aperture on her Nikon camera, Au seems to say, we have to choose our scale, what we pay attention to.”
Imogen Dewey, The Guardian

About the Author

Jessica Au is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Cold Enough for Snow will be published by New Directions, Fitzcarraldo Editions, and Giramondo, and is already set to be translated into twelve languages.


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