“In her latest novel, Beukes is facing the literal implications of multiple lives, each intersecting and colliding.”
The characters in Bridge have an impressively realistic balance of admirable qualities and concerning flaws. Did you have any core inspirations for Bridge and Jo? Did one come into focus earlier than the other?
Bridge is a departure from most of my protagonists, because she’s so uncertain, so adrift in her life. Part of that is in reaction to growing up with Jo and Jo’s obsession with a reality-switching artifact, partly it’s being young in the 2020s in a world that feels very chaotic and scary right now. She’s trying to come to terms with her mother’s death, that the weirdness of her childhood was maybe real, not one of Jo’s delusions, and who the hell she’s supposed to be. She’s always been paralyzed by choice, but the situation she’s catapulted into is going to force her to make some really big ones.
Jo was easier to write because she’s dead set on what she wants, but that single-mindedness exploring other realities has cost her a lot in this one, including her relationship with her daughter.