Cold Enough For Snow

Inaugural Winner of the International Novel Prize

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 cafés 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.


»This slim, expertly crafted and beguiling novella that flits between the past and present was the inaugural winner of the international Novel Prize. There is an absolute certainty to Jessica Au’s prose, but the evanescent story she tells—of a young woman who takes her mother on a trip to Japan, their conversations and reflections on their lives—abounds with ambiguities.«
Sydney Morning Herald

»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, author of The End of Eddy

»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

»Slim, beautifully simple ... Au’s new work ... shows that she has learnt to play to her strengths.… She finds momentum in the closely observed oscillations of a single relationship.«
Financial Times

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

»So calm and clear and deep, I wished it would flow on forever.«
Helen Garner, author of The First Stone

»Cold Enough for Snow ... is dreamlike, between traum and trauma, in its aethereal cadences. And if Au is striking out for herself, the essence of the move is in her patient manner: not self-restrained (as trauma might be) but self-measured (as a slow dream might be). Her prose is serenely executed: astutely and expertly.«
The Hong-Kong Review of Books

»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.... Finally, we bump up against what is not knowable. Au has mentioned her taste for “subverting narrative expectation … open endings, scenes in which nothing happens yet everything happens”. Cold Enough for Snow is exactly this, a book of inference and small mysteries. The stories, memories and images Au puts on the table escape easy conclusions … Aesthetic, opaque, endlessly uncoiling.«

»Au’s novel is ... 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.«
New Yorker

»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, Harpers

»Au’s writing ebbs along effortlessly and poetically.«
The Australian

»A fascinating, touching story that becomes a meditation on the link between sensory experience and the intangibility of memory, ultimately asking how our lives can both recapitulate and diverge from those of the people around us.«
Buzz Magazine

»Cold Enough for Snow ... is a fresh venture down the road of migratory stories, ones that explore the fault lines that distance can create between members of the same family.... For all of us who are rendered far from our families by these distances, the book asks us, what can we share with our parents that keeps us tethered to them?«
The Oxonian Review

Original Language

English, Giramondo

Rights sold

CATALAN Més Llibres
CHINESE (simplified) Archipel
CHINESE (complex) China Times
DUTCH De Arbeiderspers
ENGLISH (UK) Fitzcarraldo Editions
ENGLISH (AUS/NZ) Giramondo
ENGLISH (NA) New Directions
FRENCH (World) Grasset (pre-empt)
GERMAN Suhrkamp
ITALIAN Il Saggiatore
PORTUGUESE (Brazil) Fósforo
PORTUGUESE (Portugal) Dom Quixote
ROMANIAN Pandora/Editura Trei
SPANISH (World) Siruela

Available Material

English original


on behalf of Fitzcarraldo Editions
Arabic, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Korean

© Nicholas Purcell

Jessica Au

Jessica Au is a writer based in Melbourne. Her first novel Cargo (2011) was published by Picador and was highly commended in the Kathleen Mitchell Award for a writer under 30. She is the former deputy editor of Meanjin, and is currently an associate editor at Aeon. Cold Enough for Snow is her second novel.