The Strays (2014): Emily Bitto

★★★★½

The Strays has enjoyed great success in its native Australia and it’s easy to see why. It brims with the ribald, feverish glamour of bohemian life, seen through the eyes of a narrator who grows to adulthood on the margins of an exotic world so very different from her own humdrum existence. Romantic and poignant, it manages to feel much larger than its slim size would suggest. There are hints of Brideshead Revisited, of The Secret History and The Lessons, of A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book and, like Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, it focuses on an intensely-rendered, many-layered picture of adolescent female friendship. It’s a stunning debut.

Continue reading