SHORTLISTED FOR THE MUD LITERARY PRIZE 2020. A story about art, murder, and making your place in history.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MUD LITERARY PRIZE 2020
'An intriguing read with compelling descriptions of early 20th-century Sydney in all its squalor, debauchery and fascinating historical detail.' Who Weekly
'a brisk, original tale written with verve' Mud Literary Prize judging committee
A story about art, murder, and making your place in history.
Whatever it was that drew me to Muriel, it wasn't her charm.
In 1992, morning sickness drives Jane to pre-dawn walks of her neighbourhood where she meets an unfriendly woman who sprays her with a hose as she passes by. When they do talk: Muriel Kemp eyes my pregnant belly and tells me if I really want to succeed, I'd get rid of the baby.
Driven to find out more about her curmudgeonly neighbour, Jane Cooper begins to investigate the life of Muriel, who claims to be a famous artist from Sydney's bohemian 1920s. Contemporary critics argue that legend, rather than ability, has secured her position in history. They also claim that the real Muriel Kemp died in 1936.
Murderer, narcissist, sexual deviant or artistic genius and a woman before her time: Who really is Muriel Kemp?
A compelling new voice in Australian fiction. A story that deserves to be told. I couldn't put it down. - Nikki Gemmell, award-winning and bestselling author
'this novel is intriguing, evocative and had me catching my breath' - Joanna Nell, author of The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village
'The Artist's Portrait is a great addition to the Australian literary scene, a quiet, thought-provoking achiever, that doesn't overstate its case when it comes to gender and creative work, but still manages to say so much.' - Mascara Literary Review
'I read the book twice to get the whole picture and found new things to admire on every page, and I was in awe of Keys's narrative skill.' - Newtown Review of Books
Julie Keys lives in the Illawarra region on the NSW south coast. Her short stories have been published across a range of Australian journals.
Julie has worked as a tutor, a registered nurse, a youth worker and as a clinical trials coordinator. She is now studying a PhD in creative arts at the University of Wollongong and writing full-time. Her debut novel, The Artist's Portrait, was shortlisted for The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers in 2017.