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Friends & Dark Shapes

Friends & Dark Shapes

Kavita Bedford

  • awardShortlisted, The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award, Queensland Literary Awards, 2021
  • awardShortlisted, Small Press Network Book of the Year Award, 2022
  • A group of friends moves into a share house in Redfern. They are all on the cusp of thirty and big life changes, navigating insecure employment and housing, second-generation identity, online dating and social alienation—and one of them, our narrator, has just lost her father.

    How do you inhabit a space where the landscape is shifting around you, when your sense of self is unravelling? What meaning does time have in the midst of grief?

    Through emotionally rich vignettes tinged with humour, Friends & Dark Shapes sketches the contours of contemporary life. It is a novel of love and loss, of constancy and change. Most of all, it is about looking for connection in an estranged world.


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    Kavita Bedford
    About the Author

    Kavita Bedford is an Australian-Indian writer with a background in journalism, anthropology and literature. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, the Guardian and Griffith Review, and she was a recent Churchill Fellow exploring migrant narratives. She works and teaches in Sydney in media and global studies.

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    Text publication date:
    2 March 2021
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    Praise for Kavita Bedford
    andFriends & Dark Shapes

    ‘Such a vivid geography: this is a work of smart intensities, witty sorrow and wise coming-to-terms with grief. Astute, wry and beautifully tender.’

    ‘Kavita Bedford gives the gift of brighter eyes. Her prose is sparse yet jewelled, a desert of out-of-the-blue opals and oases.’

    Friends & Dark Shapes is an achingly relatable, thought-provoking and compelling debut, full of gorgeous sentences that stopped me in my tracks…I loved every minute of it.’

    Friends & Dark Shapes smells and feels and tastes like Sydney, like grief, like the limbo and the lucidity of your twenties. Bedford’s poetic yet sparse, fearless yet gentle prose makes this a book to be savoured.’

    ‘An astonishingly assured debut, full of razor-sharp observations about what it means to live precariously in a changing city. It’s hard to believe this is Bedford’s first novel. Her voice is already fully formed.’

    Friends & Dark Shapes is a tender look at the myriad ways that a body can hold grief. Kavita Bedford writes lyrically and longingly, imbuing sweetness and darkness throughout. It was a genuine pleasure to read this book; I felt as though I were sitting with a close friend, whispering to each other, sharing close-kept secrets. It made me rethink how loneliness can manifest; how we sometimes hurt ourselves and each other. Friends & Dark Shapes is a real delight and Kavita Bedford is a true talent.’

    ‘Where Bedford shines is in detailing intimate human connection…Bedford subtly explores, too, the vulnerabilities and dangers, the uncertain desires, of being a young woman. Seeking “pleasure with abandon”—or never being boring, as the Pet Shop Boys’ post-party mantra had it—is a queasy, bittersweet comedown that Bedford, filtering her Didionesque prose (and her protagonist’s Didionesque generational cataloguing) through a wider emotional lens, excels at…Like Helen Garner and Christos Tsiolkas’ own debuts, Bedford’s is more concerned with taking the pulse of young, artistically-minded people alive and struggling through the city’s struggle, slipping and sinking through the every-nothing days of urban anomie and insecure work and relationships.’

    ‘With its slow build of emotion, sparse yet precise prose, and astute insights into modern-day adulthood, Friends & Dark Shapes is a thrilling debut for fans of Victoria Hannan’s Kokomo and Jennifer Down’s Our Magic Hour. It will imprint its shape onto your brain, leaving you thinking long after the final page.’

    ‘Poignant and immersive’

    ‘Bedford’s writing is compelling, lyrical and often nostalgic. Her characters, diverse in background, live complex lives with all the nuances and intricacies that are shared among second-generation immigrants. It is a beautiful and tender ode to Sydney.’

    ‘This stunning book has lit up my life.’

    ‘Bedford beautifully portrays the life of an Australian Indian writer struggling with grief a year after the death of her father…An insightful view of a city in flux.’

    ‘This is a book steeped in the hedonism and the angst of youth…Bedford is clearly talented.’

    ‘Bedford’s writing is spare, yet it has more than enough power.’

    Friends & Dark Shapes turns its lens onto diverse views of Sydney and reveals a compellingly complex place.’

    ‘Reminiscent of Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy… An intricately observed mosaic that comes together to represent a multi-faceted story of a Sydney that is forever evolving, in ways both positive and destructive.’

    ‘Bedford writes extraordinarily moving sentences and it’s exciting to see this level of talent in a first novel.’

    ‘Bedford has perfectly rendered the mind of a new millennial adult.’

    ‘Bedford is a talented writer with a wonderful eye for detail, and her crisp, measured sentences are genuinely impressive. After grief, alienation and loneliness suffuse the novel, the story earns its way toward a sense of hope.’

    ‘An astonishingly assured debut.’

    ‘The novel asks a question that is rarer than it should be in fiction, if infinitely common in life: not how should we handle our lives, but how should we handle our work?’

    ‘An exceptionally gifted storyteller shares an intimate account of her experience as a foster parent and reflects on the majestic interconnectedness of our natural world.’

    ‘The excellent writing elevates this into a powerful personal journey.’

    ‘A timely and thoughtful novel.’

    ‘Bedford brilliantly maps the city and examines the narrator’s “dysfunctional relationship” with it. She also explores issues of race, identity and belonging through her heroine’s journalistic assignments and encounters with immigrants and refugees. However, the novel is at its most powerful when it centers upon a world caving in and the aftershocks: what it is like to “lose a parent and lose your base.’

    ‘Dealing with grief, Millennial angst, racism and being an outsider in your own city, it is also an insightful portrait of the NSW capital, capturing its natural beauty as well as its darker side.’

    ‘A standout in its tender exploration of both a city and a daughter’s grief.’

    Other editions ofFriends & Dark Shapes
    • Friends & Dark Shapes
      ISBN: 9781925923872
      2 March 2021
      Buy ebook