2019 Stella Prize Finalist


2pm Sunday 14th April, 2019 – The Warehouse
36 Fraser Street – Clunes
Join us at The Warehouse and meet author Enza Gandolfo

About The Book

Did the dead exist? Were they watching? Were they ghosts? Not the kind he’d imagined as a child, draped with white sheets, with the ability to walk through walls, but the kind that lodged themselves in your heart, in your memories, the kind that came to you in dreams, that you could see when you closed your eyes and sometimes even when your eyes were opened.

In 1970s Melbourne, 22-year-old Italian migrant Antonello is newly married and working as a rigger on the West Gate Bridge, a gleaming monument to a modern city. When the bridge collapses one October morning, killing 35 of his workmates, his world crashes down on him.

In 2009, Jo and her best friend, Ashleigh, are on the verge of finishing high school and flush with the possibilities for their future. But one terrible mistake sets Jo’s life on a radically different course.

Drawing on true events of Australia’s worst industrial accident—a tragedy that still scars the city—The Bridgeis a profoundly moving novel that examines class, guilt, and moral culpability. Yet it shows that even the most harrowing of situations can give way to forgiveness and redemption. Ultimately, it is a testament to survival and the resilience of the human spirit.

About The Author

Enza Gandolfo is a Melbourne writer and an honorary professor in creative writing at Victoria University. She is interested in the power of stories to create understanding and empathy, with a particular focus on feminist and political fiction. Enza is the co-editor of the journal TEXT and a founding member of the Victoria University Feminist Research Network, her first novel, Swimming, was shortlisted for the Barbara Jefferis Award.


“One of the most profoundly moving and beautiful books I have read all year, brimming with love, honesty, and insight. A true gem of a novel.” 

“This exquisite, moving story from Gandolfo captures the raw, wide-reaching pain of the tragedy, long regarded as Australia’s worst industrial accident.”

‘[A] dramatic and dynamic novel … This is a novel about everyday tragedy written in everyday language. Clarity prevails over lyricism. Dialogue is colloquial and lively. Carefully articulated sentences give way, in moments of anger, to more truncated phrasing and, in the closing chapters, to snappier prose that creates a sense of urgency … Her skill as a storyteller and her ability to create complex and empathetic characters gives weight to her fiction and invites the reader to question her own integrity and sense of self-worth, not without compassion.’  
 ‘A poignant novel which examines class, grief, guilt and moral culpability, The Bridge, weaves together two vastly different yet interrelated narratives.’ 

Gandolfo writes that “things that were solid crumbled” and she documents with painstaking intricacy the grieving and guilt of survivors. It is a masterful portrayal of families torn apart, searching for redemption in an unforgiving world.’  

[Enza Gandolfo] doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant emotions of her characters, and paints a startlingly real and believable picture of lives impacted by these kinds of tragedies.’ 

[A] stunningly wrenching exploration of coping with grief. It is an exceptional, exemplary work from this professor of creative writing.’  

‘Enza Gandolfo’s The Bridge, set among working-class lives, considers the collapse of the Westgate Bridge alongside a contemporary tragedy. It’s a moving, unsentimental novel about ethical complexities.’  

‘Gandolfo’s The Bridge is an exquisite historical novel largely set in the working class communities of Melbourne’s west, against the collapse of the Westgate Bridge – Australia’s worst industrial accident. My year, and my life, are richer for having read these books.’  
 ‘The Bridge is a stunning novel. Grave, yes, but exquisitely written, an intricate study on trauma and grief tightly meshed with guilt … It has all the markers of an Australian classic.’ 

Further Reading


Read an interview with Enza Gandolfo about The Bridge on SBS Greek

‘Enza plays no cheap tricks with her reader, she doesn’t rip them off with easy epiphanies. It doesn’t matter if they are blameless hardworking migrant men, or reckless teenage girls — no one gets off scot-free.’

Read Alice Pung’s speech launching The Bridge

Listen to a discussion of The Bridge on ABC RN’s The Bookshelf