Caroline’s Bikini by Kirsty Gunn - review by Joanna Kavenna

Joanna Kavenna

Schrödinger’s Plot

Caroline’s Bikini


Faber & Faber 335pp £14.99

Why write? We might counter this question with a further question: ‘Why do anything (except to earn enough money to survive)?’ or – with thanks to Albert Camus – ‘Why live when you just die in the end anyway?’ Nonetheless, the question ‘Why write?’ is pertinent enough for those who do write, or would like to write if they were able to spend less time earning sufficient money to survive. George Orwell both posed and answered this question in a famous essay, ‘Why I Write’. (His reasons included ‘sheer egoism’, ‘aesthetic enthusiasm’, ‘historical impulse’ and ‘political purpose’.) For contemporary authors, the dilemma is further compounded by the much-vaunted ‘death of the novel’, as well as ‘the death of books of any sort’ and ‘the death of words in general’.

In Caroline’s Bikini, the New Zealand-born Kirsty Gunn, whose previous works include The Boy and the Sea (2007 Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year), The Big Music (2013 New Zealand Post Book of the Year) and My Katherine Mansfield Project (2015), exploits some of the ironies of this

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