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Madeleine St John's picture

Madeleine St John


Born in Sydney, she graduated from Sydney University and has since lived mostly in Notting Hill, London.

It's not often that a London literary prize makes much news in Australia, but when her novel, The Essence of the Thing, was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize, there was widespread media coverage of this English Honours graduate who studied at the University of Sydney.

Her novels, set in contemporary England, revolve around lovers' betrayals and infidelity. They are unpredictable, beautifully written, well crafted,elegantly developed, fresh and often hilarious.

She is a superb novelist of contemporary manners. She is one of our best and funniest commentators on the present chaos in love and marriage.

From her witty novels, you get a sense of what "negative space" might be. Her scenes are simple and domestic. Her characters, usually thirty-somethingLondoners, talk in an ordinary way, just the way people do, but they are not shallow characters, they have much more substance than their surfacereveals, their words may have a hidden meaning. They are finely drawn and their personalities are studied in depth. They are largely on their own.

Moments of silence are emphasized even with blank pages and white space. St John's outlook of adultery: adulterers say no and then have to deal with theanguish of their loneliness. Madeleine maintains her distance but does not withhold sympathy.
The Man Booker Prize Best Novel nominee (1997) : The Essence of the Thing