‘A Universe of Sufficient Size is plotted with the precision of a complex Venn diagram, with overlapping identities, intersecting storylines, narrative arcs, and psychological circles that eventually resolve themselves into a poignant and breathtaking denouement.’
‘One of the most convincing and impressive novels about the life of the mind that I have ever seen written in Australia … This is a novel about youth and maths: about friendship, family, hopeless love, intellectual passions, and the long, long shadow of World War II.’
‘Book reviews usually give some indication of the plot in a way that does not spoil the story for the reader. But it is hard to do justice to the intricacies of A Universe of Sufficient Size without giving too much away.What can be said is that the events described are realistic, could have happened, and indeed in some cases did. If ever there is a novel you should not miss, this is it. 5 stars’
‘Sved’s fictional set – Eszter, Ildiko, Tibor, Levi, and Pali – are vividly drawn characters whose fates the reader comes to care about … Sved has selected biographical details from her grandmother’s life to tell a fictional story. Her prose has the nuance and sensitivity required to support such a task … There is a sense of care, custodianship even, in Sved’s reimagining of the story that inspired it, in making it her own while honouring its essential truths – its sturdier order.’
‘With her second novel, A Universe of Sufficient Size, Miriam Sved again demonstrates her ability to write about highly specific human preoccupations in a way that renders them interesting and engaging to the previously uninterested or unaware reader… such is Sved’s skill that even a reader with an active dislike of maths is likely to be beguiled by her characters’ affinity for numbers and enthusiasm for their potential… A Universe of Sufficient Size is a moving tale of deep humanity that couldn’t come at a better time.’
‘Love, friendship and sacrifice explode from the pages as two brilliant young women in war torn Hungary make decisions there can be no turning back from; that will have dire consequences for one, a life and family across two continents for the other.
Miriam has woven three generations and two periods of history into a page turning, emotional rollercoaster to remind us all that families are messy, complicated and how the repercussions of decisions made decades ago can come back and haunt you.
Miriam writes with authenticity and passion, where genius and true friendship pull together then strain and part. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.’
‘Miriam Sved’s A Universe of Sufficient Size, is a beautifully imagined inter-generational portrait of friendship, love and loss, set across three continents.
In the rapidly changing political landscape of 1930s Hungary, extraordinary skills with maths offer two friends a rare opportunity for protection and escape, but in the chaos and urgency of the war, these same skills will become the very source of betrayal and entrapment.
Sved’s novel impels us to reflect deeply on the play between relationships and ambitions, whether these be casual or convenient, crucial or compromised.
A University of Sufficient Size is meticulously researched and intricately plotted, making the past heartbreakingly relevant to the present.
This book is the product of a fiercely intelligent writer, whose extraordinary skills with storytelling shine bright in this complex and compelling second novel.’
Julienne van Loon
‘A taut, tender novel about family, secrets, genius and survival. Sved shows great insight into the complicated emotional architecture of a family created in the aftermath of trauma, and to the ever-increasing weight of untold stories.’
‘Miriam Sved’s Game Day is an absolute corker, leaping into the ruck of AFL religion in a muscular, steely-eyed and dramatic way that will appeal to devotees and heretics alike… It’s a gripping read that doesn’t flinch from the ugliness and imperfection of the professional sport in the 21st century, yet succeeds, too, in capturing its miraculous aspect, the epic physical poetry of Aussie rules that makes it so much more than a game to so many. It’s the most supple, lively literary take on AFL I’ve read.’
‘Miriam Sved’s Game Day… does for the AFL what Junot Diaz’s Drown did for the Dominican ghettos of New York… The structure Sved has adopted facilitates anthropological exploration. She shows a gifted curiosity and fine balance in the way she builds her characters. At times I found myself being reminded of the American author Jennifer Egan. Both authors share the ability to surprise with character insights, something so traditional yet so mentally refreshing. The prose is limpid yet razor sharp. Before you know it, you are looking out from the inside of her characters’ perspectives. Put together, these stories in Game Day create a complex vision of AFL culture and the passions it channels. Highly recommended.’
‘As important as sport is to Australian culture, when it comes to making the transition into depicting it in popular culture we seem to be caught just short of the tryline… It seems somewhat ironic then, that what could well become [one] of the great Australian introspectives about sport might come from a quietly spoken woman who readily admits she’s not that interested in sport.’
‘The best kind of storytellers are the ones so adept at their craft that they can hypnotise even those readers bitterly opposed to the subject matter. So it is with Miriam Sved, whose debut novel, Game Day, addresses the complex, often insidious and interweaving relationships formed between the members of an Australian Football League club… The result is hypnotic, startling almost in its breadth and focus.’
‘Miriam Sved’s début novel is a structurally innovative portrait of élite Australian football as a juggernaut that leaves lives scrambling and spent in its wake. Its fourteen stories, each told from a different narrative perspective, form a prismatic study of a single season in the lives of Mick Reece and Jake Dooley, two first-year recruits at an unnamed, present-day AFL club… United at the novel’s opening, the two players’ small-town lives criss-cross in unexpected ways across the arc of the home-and-away season. Yet this is no ‘hero’s journey’ profile of the players’ fortunes, as is so often sketched in the sports media. Sved inverts this convention, making the boys the objects of the culture’s (male) gaze, allowing the reader to see the ways in which their lifestyles and identities are shaped for them by these bystanders and collaborators, until they become distorting moulds. In Sved’s hands, the game’s language and customs are revealed as its true boundaries, determining the roles and freedoms of the men and women in its field of play.’
‘Miriam Sved’s debut novel strips back the corporate persona of an AFL club by weaving together a series of individual perspectives of our indigenous game. Players, scouts, coaches, groupies: none are spared, but nor are they mocked or trivialised. This fine book is a piercing view of a culture that runs deep, and Sved mines a sporting obsession that is in turn uplifting, ennobling, degrading and sad.’
‘Drug abuse, affairs, illegal betting, sexual assaults, violence and salary cap breaches; there’s no shortage of drama in AFL. But sometimes it takes an outsider to bring it back to basics and shine a light on the humanity at the heart of our home-grown game.’
Blanche Clark, Herald Sun & Daily Telegraph.
‘Not only can Miriam Sved find the ball, she can deliver it, with masterful handling skills. Fourteen distinct and entirely believable voices show us a season of AFL through their own eyes, and the narrative builds like a season, showing us the undercurrents and complexities, the compromises and the costs, of what’s at stake for them all. And Sved’s prose is as sinewy and powerful as her characters – beautifully controlled and, like the game itself, full of revealing moments that glow in the memory. A terrific achievement.’
‘You Bewdy! At last a decent book about footy. Miriam Sved has written a debut novel about the A.F.L. from every angle, and it’s a bloody ripper! … Anything you want from a novel about footy is in here. It’s positively Tolstoyan in its overview of every aspect of our great game and like Tolstoy, every character, major or minor, is a living breathing, well drawn human being. I loved it.’
Fred Negro, Melbourne.Arts.Fashion.
© Miriam Sved