Olivia arrives at her mothers chateau in rural France (the first time in more than a decade) with her two young children in tow. Soon the family is joined by Olivias brother Marcus and his wife Sophiebut this reunion is far from joyful. After years of desperately wanting a baby, Sophie has just given birth to a stillborn child, and she is struggling to overcome her devastation. Meanwhile, Olivia wrestles with her own secrets about the cruel and violent man she married many years before. Exquisitely written and reminiscent of Ian McEwan and J. M. Coetzee, Disquiet is a darkly beautiful and atmospheric story that will linger in the mind long after the final page is turned.
Though some critics have argued that Disquiet is light on plot, Olivia's evolution is absorbing and complex. Leigh is an artist working at the top of her game, and the success of this novella lies in her ability to shave as much fat from her narrative as possible, while maintaining deep, profound significance. Similar to a Rembrandt sketch, this novella breathes full-bodied life through only a few deft, precise strokes. Like a poem, each word carries a heavy load. Leigh is a remarkable, stunning writer and Disquiet is a must-read. (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
Starred Review. [A] subtle portrait of a broken family trying to piece itself back together.
It's difficult to imagine a reader who will not be electrified by this haunting, masterfully told story. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine a reader who will not be changed by it.
The Times (UK)
The book is beautiful, but very cerebral. It melts the ice in the hearts of its characters. The reader, however, though often surprised and left with plenty to think about, is not particularly moved.
The Guardian (UK)
Yet, for all its narrative facility, there is something mannered about Disquiet. Leigh's attempts to invoke an elemental profundity with repeated references to oak, mountain and water do not convince ("the door was oak and he was boy"; "in that moment they were mountain and lake, ancient"; "no boy is mountain and lake"). It deploys the most potent, painful subjects, but as a piece of work, it cannot quite justify its themes.
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
The climactic image in Julia Leigh's stifling novella, Disquiet .... is a magnificent depiction of human distress and testament to the author's stunning talent. Sadly, the rest of the book, barely over 100 small pages, is as disappointing as it is baffling.
The Age (Australia)
Like The Hunter, Disquiet exhibits Julia Leigh's substantial and rare talent. There is a great deal to admire here, and the feat she attempts is virtuosic. Toni Morrison is right: Leigh's power comes from control juxtaposed with her ability to disturb. But, here, the earthquake underfoot doesn't build quite enough power to move.
is Julia Leigh's
second work of
fiction, and it
took her nine
years to write.
When asked why
it took her so
"There is a nice
quote I like
alike in that
waste effort ...
When I am
things, when I
set out, I can't
be guaranteed of
Written with the austere clarity that has made Coetzee the winner of
two Booker Prizes and the Nobel Prize, Disgrace explores the downfall of one man and dramatizes the plight of a
country caught in the chaotic aftermath of centuries of racial oppression.
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