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The present reckons with the past in Attraction, Ruby Porter’s atmospheric debut novel.
Three women are on a road trip, navigating the motorways of the North Island, their relationships with one another and New Zealand’s colonial history. Our narrator doesn’t know where she stands with Ilana, her not-quite girlfriend. She has a complex history with her best friend, Ashi. She’s haunted by the memory of her emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend. And her period’s now weeks late.
Attraction is a meditative novel of connection, inheritance and the stories we tell ourselves. In lyrical fragments, Porter explores what it means to be and to belong, to create and to destroy.
‘[Porter’s] writing has the intensity of Sally Rooney, the rawness of Andrew McGahan’s Praise and 1988 but is also distinctly original…[A]n utterly amazing debut.’ Jon Page
INTERVIEWS and REVIEWS
Books + Publishing
Couple of Pages
Overland: October in Fiction
Radio New Zealand: Saturday
Spinoff: Papercuts podcast (Auckland Writers Festival) (0:25:00)
Spinoff: On Levin, and Grandmothers (essay)
Sydney Review of Books
‘Attraction peels back the landscape to reveal deeper truths. The writer is right inside her material – a road trip that delivers a political and sexual coming-of-age narrative. The book is a slow-burning fuse that brims with intensely felt experience. Porter is an exciting new talent.’
‘Attraction abounds with sharp imagery, intergenerational relationships and the natural, historic and domestic environments of modern New Zealand. Ruby Porter is a gifted new writer.’
‘Attraction is an exquisite story…The prose is emotive and artistic…Attraction is impossible to put down…It is a brilliant, beautiful novel.’
’The road trip proves the perfect medium here for the writer’s coming-of-age quiet exploration of the transitory and the fickle; of what matters beneath the turmoil of an ever-changing personal history and the relationship of individuals to their scarred and damaged homeland.’
‘A coming-of-age story that is full of evocative sketches of the North Island’s landscapes.’
‘Skill and talent combined’
‘The story is told in fragments and time slips; sometimes it’s straight reportage, sometimes it’s more like a diary, relating what the narrator is remembering, reading and feeling. She is not always reliable. Her ever-changing consciousness, by turns particular and dreamlike, rolls out like the waves at Whāngārā. It makes for a wonderful novel.’
‘Not a word is wasted. Imagery is of the sharpest level. The settings almost take on lives of their own…There is so much to love about this angry, meditative novel that reading it is almost an act of catharsis.‘
‘Very few contemporary New Zealand novels examine our national political blind spots with such a clear eye…If Porter shows us that the past is complicated, messy and often unpleasant, and the legacy difficult to live with, she shows us these things with an artist’s eye for beauty.’
‘The prose is subtle and flavourful…One to savour slowly.’