The rise and rise of Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au
19 April 2023
A young woman has arranged a holiday with her mother in Japan. They travel by train, visit galleries and churches chosen for their art and architecture, eat together in small cafes and restaurants and walk along the canals at night, on guard against the autumn rain and the prospect of snow. All the while, they talk, or seem to talk: about the weather, horoscopes, clothes and objects; about the mother’s family in Hong Kong, and the daughter’s own formative experiences. But uncertainties abound. How much is spoken between them, how much is thought but unspoken?
But Au’s debut novel has had run of success that authors — both new and established — could only dream of. Since being published in February 2022, Cold Enough for Snow has won a slew of awards. Gongs so far include the 2020 Novel Prize, of which it was the inaugural recipient, and the 2022 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction.
Au’s book also cleaned up at the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, collecting both the Fiction award, and the Victorian Prize for Literature, valued together at A$125,000. The novel has also been shortlisted in the fiction categories of the 2022 Queensland Literary Awards, and the 2023 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Cold Enough for Snow was also shortlisted for the fiction award in the 2022 Age Book of the Year.
Literary award longlist listings meanwhile include the 2022 Indie Book Awards, 2023 Dublin Literary Award, and the 2023 BookPeople Nielsen award. These are incredible achievements, and are all the more remarkable given the page count barely exceeds one hundred. Compelling stories do not need to be of epic proportions.
But Cold Enough for Snow’s winning streak may not be over just yet. Today, the title was included in the shortlist of the Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year category in the 2023 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs). The winners of the ABIAs will be announced in late May. We can only be left wondering: what’s next for Au’s debut work of fiction?