The breakout literary sensation of 2021, THE PERFORMANCE is a tightly woven examination of women's inner lives that is enthralling, profound and deeply human.
A SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 'MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2021'
'In this novel, the project of living is rendered with compassionate clarity.' THE NEW YORK TIMES
'Thomas's imitation of wandering minds is flawless.' THE WASHINGTON POST
'Claire Thomas has constructed, with graceful precision, a near-perfect wind-up music box of a novel.' ARTS HUB
The false cold of the theatre makes it hard to imagine the heavy wind outside in the real world, the ash air pressing onto the city from the nearby hills where bushfires are taking hold.
The house lights lower.
The auditorium feels hopeful in the darkness.
As bushfires rage outside the city, three women watch a performance of a Beckett play.
Margot is a successful professor, preoccupied by her fraught relationship with her ailing husband. Ivy is a philanthropist with a troubled past, distracted by the snoring man beside her. Summer is a young theatre usher, anxious about the safety of her girlfriend in the fire zone.
As the performance unfolds, so does each woman's story. By the time the curtain falls, they will all have a new understanding of the world beyond the stage.
'How each woman interacts with and is altered by the play enacts beautifully the dialectical relationship between art and life.' THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN
'Witty, affecting, brilliantly wise and original.' Gail Jones, author of A GUIDE TO BERLIN, THE DEATH OF NOAH GLASS and OUR SHADOWS
'A potent meditation on the intensity of women's lives.' Charlotte Wood, author of THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS and THE WEEKEND
'Claire Thomas writes with a sure eye and knowing heart.' Tony Birch, author of BLOOD, GHOST RIVER and THE WHITE GIRL
'I read from start to finish almost without looking up.' Clare Bowditch, author of YOUR OWN KIND OF GIRL
'Read it as soon as you possibly can.' Emily Bitto, author of THE STRAYS
'I can't recommend this too highly.' Patrick Gale, author of A PLACE CALLED WINTER and TAKE NOTHING WITH YOU
'Frequently funny, often profound, The Performance is an unmissable show.' Emma Stonex, author of THE LAMPLIGHTERS
In this novel, the project of living is rendered with compassionate clarity. - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Thomas's imitation of wandering minds is flawless and yet entirely comprehensible. Without drifting into stream of consciousness, she nonetheless reproduces that vast galaxy of thoughts that revolves around the dark matter of anxiety at the center of each life. Although, in one sense, nothing 'happens' in this novel, there's something uniquely revealing about it... The structure of The Performance forces Thomas to create movement even while her characters are sitting stock still, but she rises to the challenge. We're drawn into the cares of these women's lives and made to care for them... The Performance is an insightful response to Beckett's 60-year-old classic and a thoughtful reflection on what's burying women in the modern age. - Ron Charles, THE WASHINGTON POST
The ideas underpinning The Performance are certainly provocative and how each woman interacts with and is altered by the play enacts beautifully the dialectical relationship between art and life. - THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN
Claire Thomas has constructed, with graceful precision, a near-perfect wind-up music box of a novel in The Performance... [She] is deliciously clever and self-aware. Not a sentence is overwritten... Thomas handles themes of love and grief, family and the environment, with breath-snatching wisdom. - ARTS HUB
Witty, affecting, brilliantly wise and original: this is a wholly compelling examination of three women's lives triangulated through Beckett's Happy Days. Against Beckettian constraint, this is a "performance" of the gorgeous amplitude of everyday details and the densely lovely and scary texture of consciousness. - Gail Jones, author of A GUIDE TO BERLIN, THE DEATH OF NOAH GLASS and OUR SHADOWS
Restrained and adventurous at once, The Performance is a cool, potent meditation on the private intensity of women's lives. An enigmatic, elegant and assured novel that explores the power of art in revealing us to ourselves. - Charlotte Wood, author of THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS and THE WEEKEND
It has been over a decade since Claire Thomas published her debut novel, Fugitive Blue . . . Her second book has been worth the wait. The Performance is a story that assuredly balances the connections between the inner self, the intimacy of our immediate world and lives that are both beyond reach and yet determined by the paths we choose. Claire Thomas writes with a sure eye and knowing heart. - Tony Birch, author of BLOOD, GHOST RIVER and THE WHITE GIRL
Claire Thomas is a Melbourne writer. Her acclaimed first novel was Fugitive Blue, which won the Dobbie Award for women writers, and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Claire holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne where she taught literary studies and creative writing for many years.