New Yorker Editors Rate Catherine Chidgey’s Pet
New Yorker editors and critics choose their “most captivating, notable, brilliant, surprising, absorbing, weird, thought-provoking, and talked-about reads” every Wednesday and on a recent week noticed New Zealand author Catherine Chidgey’s latest fiction, Pet.
This is what they wrote:
“In this suspenseful bildungsroman, Justine, a Catholic schoolgirl living in New Zealand in the 1980s, searches for a classroom thief, as the school’s suspicions shift from her to her best friend to a glamorous new teacher. Justine’s adolescence is coloured by concerns both workaday and personal: a close female friendship, petty teen-age infighting, seizures that disrupt her recall, grief for her recently deceased mother. The novel occasionally jumps forward to 2014, when Justine, now an adult with a daughter of her own, tends to her dementia-stricken father. In these moments, Justine’s girlhood collapses into her present, and she appraises ‘shimmers in my memory’ and revisits the mysteries of her youth.”
Auckland-born Chidgey, 53, has published eight novels, and has won the Ockham New Zealand Book Award for The Wish Child and The Axeman’s Carnival.
Original article by The New Yorker, November 2, 2023.