Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lola Bensky by Lily Brett

I've enjoyed the Lily Brett novels, short stories and articles I've read over the years.

And Lola Bensky was no exception.

You know exactly what you're going to get with Brett.

You know there is going to be lots of Holocaust survivor issues, body weight issues and a protagonist who was born in a displaced persons camp, grew up in Australia, married twice, had three children and moved to New York.

I love trying to untangle the autobiographical truths from the fiction.

And I always love Edek.

This story is a little different from her earlier work as the focus is on Lola/Lily's time as a rock journalist during the late sixties.

Lola works for an Australian magazine, but travels to London and the US to interview people like Cat Stevens, Barry Gibb, Mick Jagger, Cher, the Mama's and Papa's, Jim Morrison, Otis Redding and Janis Joplin. She hangs out with Lillian Roxon and Linda Eastman. She gives her diamante-lined flase eyelashes to Cher, she discusses diets with Mama Cass and shares her parents experiences in Auschwitz with Mick Jagger.

Brett rolls out this story with humour, pathos and warmth.

Lola Bensky wasn't as strong or as moving as Too Many Men in my mind, but it was comforting to return to such familiar characters and such a charming style.

Update: November 2014 

Lily Brett is the first Australian (and only the fourth woman) to win the Prix Medicis Etranger for Lola Bensky. The French literary prize is given to an author whose novel has been translated into French from another language.

Previous winners include Doris Lessing, Milan Kundera, Michael Ondaatje, Amitav Ghosh, Philip Roth, Dave Eggers, Paul Auster and Orhan Pamuk.

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