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Bodies of Light

Jennifer Down

$32.99

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Text Publishing Company
04 October 2021
WINNER MILES FRANKLIN LITERARY AWARD 2022

Jennifer Down cements her status as a leading light of Australian literary fiction in this heart-rending and intimate saga of one woman's turbulent life.    

So by the grace of a photograph that had inexplicably gone viral, Tony had found me. Or – he'd found Maggie.

I had no way of knowing whether he was nuts or not; whether he might go to the cops. Maybe that sounds paranoid, but I don't think it's so ridiculous. People have gone to prison for much lesser things than accusations of child-killing.


A quiet, small-town existence. An unexpected Facebook message, jolting her back to the past. A history she's reluctant to revisit – dark memories and unspoken trauma, warning knocks on bedroom walls, unfathomable loss.

She became a new person a long time ago. What happens when buried stories are dragged into the light?

This epic novel from the two-time Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year is a masterwork of tragedy and heartbreak-the story of a life in full. Sublimely wrought in devastating detail, Bodies of Light confirms Jennifer Down as one of the writers defining her generation.

 bodies of light by Jennifer Down

By:  
Imprint:   Text Publishing Company
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 233mm,  Width: 155mm,  Spine: 37mm
Weight:   585g
ISBN:   9781925773590
ISBN 10:   1925773590
Pages:   448
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jennifer Down is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in publications including the Age, Saturday Paper, Australian Book Review and Literary Hub. She was named a Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year in both 2017 and 2018. Our Magic Hour, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, the 2017 Voss Literary Prize and a 2017 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Her second book, Pulse Points, was the winner of the 2018 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, and was shortlisted for a 2018 NSW Premier's Literary Award and a 2018 Queensland Literary Award. She lives in Melbourne.

Reviews for Bodies of Light

'Brutal and beautiful-I couldn't stop reading it. Jennifer Down is a brilliant writer.' * Victoria Hannan * 'Mesmerising, uncompromising and extraordinary. A whole life is in these pages.' * Robbie Arnott * 'Fierce and compelling. Down's compassion for her character, her refusal to look away from intolerable suffering, is a lesson for us all. A novel with immense dignity and heart.' * Carrie Tiffany * 'Jennifer Down is going to be a major part of the future of Australian literature. The quality of her writing, as well as her ability to tap into the loves, fears and anxieties many of us experience guarantee this.' * Readings Monthly * 'Pulse Points consolidates [Down's] reputation as a remarkable young writer. Her stories are effortlessly global yet strongly anchored in place. They testify to Down's remarkable powers of observation and her ability to create bleak but engaging worlds.' * Michelle de Kretser, Australian Book Review * 'This is a finely crafted collection that reminds us how sad and beautiful it is simply to be alive...The emotional depth of [Down's] writing displays a gift that will no doubt continue to unfold as her body of work grows.' * Saturday Paper on Pulse Points * 'These stories are studies in concision and with their strong social justice message they function like shocks. Though they are often about the disempowered, they ripple out with a seismic intensity, hinting at just how far this dazzling young writer might go.' * Australian on Pulse Points * 'Jennifer Down is a subtly extraordinary writer, and Pulse Points is one of the best Australian literary offerings we'll see this year.' * Good Reading * 'All the rapture and calamity of youth. Jennifer Down is a writer of rare insight and heart.' * Carrie Tiffany on Our Magic Hour * An impressive and emotionally sophisticated novel.' * Australian Book Review on Our Magic Hour * 'Down has an impressive feel for the drama of the ordinary.' * Sydney Morning Herald on Our Magic Hour * 'Down's evocation of Audrey's grief is astute, perceptive and always convincing...It's compelling writing.' * Australian on Our Magic Hour * 'A gritty, evocative story...Unconventional and intimate, Our Magic Hour is a must-read.' * Canberra Weekly on Our Magic Hour * 'Bodies of Light is Jennifer Down's third book and her best yet...A brilliant, sharply observed and deeply affecting epic that secures Down's status as one of the best writers in Australia today.' * Books+Publishing * 'A remarkably empathic book...a life that the reader cannot deny.' * Declan Fry, Guardian * 'A story of a woman's remarkable resilience, the possibility of human kindness, and the necessity of hope...Intelligently, tenderly restrained.' * Australian Book Review * 'Down is reframing altogether the way that difficult life events can be written about and can be rendered artistically without becoming manipulative or sensationalised...An incredibly propulsive book...I gobbled it up.' * Patrick Carey, RN Bookshelf * 'There is no other release in 2021 that I would recommend more passionately to almost every reader. Bodies of Light is so full of beauty and hope, not least because Down is an incredibly accomplished writer, who manages to plunge the reader into time and place with astonishing depth and assuredness... The care that Down takes to give us trauma that feels genuine-though sometimes uncomfortably so-means that Bodies of Light remains a grounded and satisfying read. By striving for authenticity and for hopefulness in its depiction of Maggie's chequered existence, Down's novel avoids the opera of trauma for titillation, instead serving what feels like fidelity, understanding and dignity.' * Matilda Dixon-Smith, Meanjin * 'It should come as no surprise that Jennifer Down has delivered another gem. But Bodies of Light is streets ahead of her earlier work, bringing the sophistication and craft of her short stories together with her keen insight into the ways we all yearn for connection, and the things that keep us apart...Heartbreaking as it may be, this novel is so rich with the details, both visceral and true, of Josie's life that it will be deeply felt by everyone who reads it.' * Bec Kavanagh, Readings Monthly * 'A truly stunning novel...with such rich emotional depth.' * 3RRR Glasshouse * 'Mesmerising, brutal and unforgettable.' * Laura Brading, Sydney Morning Herald * 'A sweeping, intensely immersive novel.' * Kill Your Darlings * 'This is an absolute staggering, heart in your mouth read. While often brutal--the main character, Maggie, is confronting the trauma wrought from being a ward of the state for all of her childhood--the writing is shot through with light. I don't think I've read anything that so viscerally writes the body on the page. Calling into question notions of identity, invisibility, sexuality, trauma and belonging, Maggie's relationship with her own body and the bodies of others is devastating and sublime. I could not put this down.' * Molly Murn, Matilda Bookshop *


  • Long-listed for Miles Franklin Literary Award 2022 (Australia)
  • Long-listed for Stella Prize 2022 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for Adult crime novels, Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards 2022 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for Fiction, The Age Book of the Year Award 2022 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for Fiction, Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2022 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for Miles Franklin Literary Award 2022 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for Stella Prize 2022 (Australia)

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