An intensely satisfying novel that celebrates the short richly lived life of Australian artist, Clarice Beckett. Co-winner of the 2009 Australian/Vogel Literary Award.
Night Street is the passionate story of a young painter, Clarice Beckett, who defies society’s strict conventions and indifferent art critics alike and leads an intense private and professional life. With her extraordinary talent for making simple city and seascapes haunting and mysteriously revelatory, Clarice paints prolifically and lives largely, overcoming the seemingly confined existence as the spinster daughter in the parental home.
Night Street began with Thornell’s first encounter with the paintings of Melbourne artist Clarice Beckett (1887-1935) at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The subtle power of Clarice’s highly atmospheric, enigmatic landscapes enabled her to imagine Clarice’s inner life and shape an extraordinary novel.
Thornell is a beautiful writer. Her evocation of the painter Clarice, who fights against societal conventions whilst being pushed, to outwardly adhere to them, is powerful, eloquent and moving. The clarity and simplicity of Thornell’s writing resonates through the book, highlighting its undercurrent of fervour and passion, as it propels the narrative forward with a masterful sense of poetic urgency.
Kristel Thornell was born in Sydney, and has lived in Italy, Mexico, Canada, Finland and the US, where she is now based in upstate New York. She has degrees in Italian Studies and English, and a PhD from the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney. She has published short fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, and the novel, Night Street, for which she co-won the Australian / Vogel Literary Award, and won the Dobbie Literary Award for a first book, and the Barbara Ramsden Award for book of the year. She was shortlisted for the Glenda Adams Award and the Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier’s Awards, and was named one of The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Best Young Australian Novelists in 2011