‘So, was it hard to pretend I was “dead”? Well, my motivation was abundant; it was splendiferous, endless, you might say.’
An American actress, renowned for being late, is living with her two cats in a modernist clifftop apartment in Sydney in the late 1980s.
The recounting of her story is prompted by the arrival of an old typewriter and a book addressed to Zelda Zonk. And by the arrival of a young man called Daniel, who is locked out while house-sitting her neighbour’s apartment.
Together Zelda and Daniel form an unlikely but close bond as they go walking, prepare dinner for Shabbat, traverse Sydney Harbour on a ferry and talk about their lives. Part of their bond is the discovery that they are both orphans. Daniel is also a habitué of the nearby sandstone cliffs where men have mysteriously gone missing.
In Late, Michael Fitzgerald superbly captures the literary spirit and sensibility of an ageing woman and icon who has escaped celebrity. It is a haunting and lyrical novel about art, friendship, and confronting our fears.
‘A big swing that works beautifully. Fitzgerald’s affection and respect for his subject, whom we all know and don’t know at all, results in a voice that rings true: warm, tender, passionate, smart, self-aware and very, very witty.’
C. J. Johnson, President of the Film Critics Circle of Australia
‘Deeply referential, dramatic and allusive, Late balances on a tightrope between present and past lives, public and private roles. A riveting mystery unfolds. In the process the author delivers a meditation on celebrity and a love song to Sydney.’
Catherine Phil MacCarthy, author of Daughters of the House and One Room an Everywhere