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Impossible Music

2020 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments

Impossible Music follows the journey of a young musician who loses his hearing as a result of a stroke and must adapt to a world without sound. While learning Auslan he meets George, whose own hearing loss is caused by tinnitus, and they become each other’s critic, companion and sounding board.  

Drawing on musical theory and experimentation, Williams offers a fascinating exploration of our relationship with music and language, and the effects of losing access to something you have staked your identity on. One of the many strengths of this novel is Simon’s voice — smart, wry, sarcastic, at times wickedly funny, and emotional without ever being sentimental. Rather than employing a linear narrative, Williams dips back and forth in time in a way that serves to amplify his themes. Impossible Music is a bold story that does not shy away from confronting topics, exploring grief, anger, sexuality, disability, prejudice and mental illness with intelligence and care.