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Avalanche by Julia Leigh

Book cover for Avalanche by Julia Leigh

Avalanche by Julia Leigh (Penguin Random House)

Judges’ Comments

Novelist and film director Julia Leigh — a high achiever from an early age, busy, ambitious, and fulfilled in ‘a hard-won creative life’ — realised in her late thirties that she ‘no longer wanted to be responsible solely for [herself]’. She wanted to have a child, but as the prospective father of that child had undergone a vasectomy, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) seemed like a solution. However, as she was soon to discover, ‘most IVF cycles fail or, to be more precise, most assisted reproduction fails’.

Undeterred, and confident of her luck and her willpower, Leigh embarked on a series of treatments, imagining her ‘not-yet-baby’. Avalanche is an account of her experiences, with no detail of medical procedures and biological processes spared. It is a book which could easily have been boring or clinical, but becomes an engrossing narrative as the author’s unblinking honesty and vivid prose style build dramatic tension through each unsuccessful cycle. Though this book is quite short, a whole world of knowledge and emotion is condensed within its pages.