WALL by Jen Craig
Granted this is the sort of confession that will have me drawn and quartered in certain circles, but here goes: I’ve never quite GOT Jen Craig. Sure, I enjoyed her earlier books enough. I’ve admired the architecture of her prose, and the intense self-reflexivity of her narration but it’s never led me to the cultish obsessiveness that seems to surround her. And while I’m still not quite at that level, Wall has certainly brought me a step closer.
Craig’s latest is a perfect gateway drug to the Bernhardian renaissance, albeit one that’s arrived late into its proliferation. In many ways it is a reckoning with grief; an accessibly universal theme, too often relegated to boring cliché. Not so, with Wall. In it, an artist who has fled overseas, returns to Sydney following the death of her father to pack up the family home. She casts her mourning through an artistic lens: she means to make an installation piece of his detritus a la Song Dong. Her thoughts play out in real time, as she navigates difficult questions of art, family, belonging, legacy and love.
A rather ingenious evocation of the disorienting nature of loss.
Wall by Jen Craig
Puncher & Wattmann, 2023