Friday, May 31, 2013

"startlingly original" (The Daily Beast)

More praise from the USA for Janet Frame's posthumous short stories comes from The Daily Beast in a review of "three new must-read collections" including Between My Father and the King.

Meanwhile thanks to all the fantastic attention for the "legendary New Zealand author" Janet Frame, her US publisher has had to order a reprint of the book already.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Romanian edition of The Rainbirds by Janet Frame

There's another new foreign edition hot off the presses!
Janet Frame's novel The Rainbirds (1968) has been translated into Romanian and published by Ibu Publishing as Familia Rainbird (2013)

More design accolades for W.H. Chong

W.H. Chong is an award winning graphic designer who is the Design Director for Australian publisher Text Publishing.  He has just won the 2013 Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Design Hall of Fame Award at the Australian Publishers Association Book Design Awards held last week.

The Hall of Fame award is presented to a designer whose work has made a significant contribution to book design in Australia. The judges said that the Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Award ‘is a most fitting and deserving acknowledgement as Chong has been an inspirational designer, teacher, mentor and force within the publishing industry for decades.’

W.H. Chong’s design for Murray Bail’s The Voyage also won Best Designed Cover of the Year Award, and shared the Best Designed Literary Fiction Book Award.
Best designed cover of the year, APA Book Design Awards

We're proud to say that W.H. Chong designed the strikingly appropriate cover of Janet Frame's posthumous novel In the Memorial Room released by Text Publishing earlier this month, and we won't be surprised to see his design nominated for an award next year!

Superbly designed by WH Chong

Trust never sleeps

The latest Janet Frame publication arranged and authorised by the Janet Frame Literary Trust is a new Italian edition of one of Janet Frame's most famous novels: Faces in the Water.

Volti nell'acqua will be published by Neri Pozza next month (June 2013).


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Janet Frame on front page of New York Times Book Review

Janet Frame features on the cover of this weekend's New York Times Book Review together with her Australian contemporary the Nobel prize winner Patrick White.

Janet Frame's posthumous collection of stories Between My Father and the King (known by the title Gorse is Not People in New Zealand) is reviewed alongside a review of Patrick White's posthumously published The Hanging Garden.

It's extraordinary to be given this Page 1 position in the influential NYTBR and the gesture can be taken as a mark of respect for these two great antipodean authors.

Nicholas Birns of the Antipodes Journal's blog Reading Across the Pacific notes that both reviews, unusually for "material about Australian/New Zealand literature published in US outlets" address the social and political background of both authors' works (including the New Zealand welfare state in Frame's case, and the Australian stolen generation issue in White's). Birns adds:

"One also likes the sense that two writers who did all their work in the twentieth century, who, in other words, are not the latest thing, are being honored, as classics of world literature."

 Read the review of Janet Frame's stories here and of Patrick White's novel  here.

But wait, there's more!
The Boston Globe reviews Janet Frame

Don't miss this tremendous review also appearing in the States this Memorial Weekend, featuring in The Boston Globe. It is one of the pithiest and most perceptive reviews that I have seen of the posthumous stories, and it shows a sophisticated understanding of Frame's abilities and achievements:

"A groundbreaking author, original in language and subject matter, astute at revealing hypocrisy and brutality, particularly as it arose in lives of women and marginalized people like the patients she encountered during her stays in psychiatric wards."

"Frame’s is an acute vision, attuned to the full spectrum of human experience. The kingdom of her spacious imagination is fully displayed in this collection." 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Interview with Ramona Koval on Janet Frame's posthumous publishing

Ramona Koval was recently in New Zealand publicising By the Book: A Reader's Guide to Life (Text Publishing).

She has also written Speaking Volumes: Conversations with Remarkable Writers.

Ramona Koval was the presenter of "The Book Show" ABC Radio National (Australia) for many years.

Here is a link to a five year old interview Australian publisher Andrew Wilkins and I did with Ramona Koval on the sadly now defunct The Book Show:

'Posthumous Publishing: Janet Frame's Poetry'.

I was in Australia for the launch of the Australian edition of The Goose Bath published by Wilkins Farago.  This was one of my first major live interviews and I was pretty nervous, but I couldn't have been in better hands.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Framesque WTF-ness (BookieMonster)

There's a fantastic new review of Janet Frame's  In the Memorial Room on New Zealand's popular BookieMonster blog, in which a new piece of critical terminology is posited: Framesque WTF-ness.

"No, seriously, WTF?" is the response in this case to Janet Frame's protagonist Harry Gill's reference to the feminist revolution as "the age of the raging clitoris".

More snippets from this delightfully fresh, enthusiastic, and perceptive review:

"The book is imbued with a sense of hilarity, and the humour is laugh-out-loud material."

"The writing is exactly what we expect from Frame – gorgeous, delirious and shining with delight. Her amazing ability to pile on sound and word texture is just as evident in this book."

Bookie Monster, clearly a Frame fan, also recommends this new posthumous novel as "a wonderful introduction" to Frame's work for those who haven't read her before.

Monday, May 13, 2013

PW Picks: Janet Frame

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY has picked Janet Frame's Between My Father and the King as one of their 'Best new books for the week of May 13, 2013.'

The PW starred review for Between My Father and the King says that it "showcases her extraordinary gifts as an imaginative storyteller with a singular viewpoint. Frame grasps an image and the emotion behind it in a few spare words."

"These stories—with themes of despair, disappointment, and wonder, underscored by Frame’s melancholy and vivid turns of phrase—are beautifully rendered."

The recommendations continue:

The Kirkus starred review for this book is now online:

"A treasure-trove of stories."
"A powerful collection."
And from Booklist (April 15, 2013) yet another starred review:

"writerly genius in every sentence"
"told with charming and often wicked wit" 
The Christian Science Monitor has included Between My Father and the King in their list of 12 promising fiction titles for Spring 2013:
"This posthumous collection ... takes readers from despair to wonder and on to deep meaning, always accompanied by powerful writing."

Released this week in the USA by Counterpoint Press.

The New Zealand edition of Between My Father and the King was published last year by Penguin Books NZ under the title Gorse is Not People and was a top ten NZ Fiction bestseller (Nielsen BookScan) for the year 2012.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

You have new mail

Snail mail! Packages! Here's a pic of the latest swag of gorgeous 'author' copies of recent Janet Frame releases and reprints, from South Korea, Sweden, Germany, Australia, the UK and America.
It's been a thrill to see the four Swedish volumes published last year by Modernista (an earlier package seems to have got lost in the mail). The four hardback books are beautifully designed and presented with attractive jackets.
Scented Gardens For the Blind
Faces in the Water
Owls Do Cry
The Edge of the Alphabet
Swedish Reviews
See Litteratur Magazinet for an essay (in Swedish) by Sebastian Lönnlöv on Janet Frame's "fascinating oeuvre" (18 February 2013).
See Aftonbladet for a review (in Swedish) by Pia Bergström (December 2012).

For some other Swedish reviews of the Modernista collection of Janet Frame classic novels, see my earlier blog post.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

"quite perfectly posthumous" (LiteraryMinded)

Author Angela Meyer of Australian blog LiteraryMinded has written about her experience of reviewing Janet Frame's In the Memorial Room for The Australian newspaper.

She says "it felt like a weighty task", but: "as soon as I began reading the novel, it was like sitting down very comfortably with an old friend; a very smart, witty, entertaining old friend."

In the comments thread, Meyer shares an interesting insight:

"With the dead writer character Frame is also exploring the glory afforded to authors (good or mediocre) after their death; the way they are picked over, used, in a way; the way the meaning of their life and work changes. And with full knowledge that in life one can hardly control one’s public image, let alone in death, by releasing a posthumous novel Frame is at least a part of the conversation on her own status as a dead author, if you get my drift. It’s wonderfully clever."

The post on Literary Minded can be found here.

Angela Meyer's review can be found here

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Who is Janet Frame?

Image: Back jacket of The Pocket Mirror
(George Braziller, New York, first hardback edition, 1967)
Author photograph by Jerry Bauer
Who is Janet Frame? She is the author of the book. Janet Frame cannot be reduced to the status of one of her fictional characters. She is not trapped within the pages of her book like an ancient insect preserved in amber. She wrote it. Hers is the consciousness that stands behind the whole work.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hidden depths

It has been fascinating to observe the wide range of responses to Janet Frame's 'new' novel In the Memorial Room. As poet Paula Green pointed out in her review for the New Zealand Herald, "This novel is like a prism that becomes something other as the light changes."
The novel is deceptively simple and can be enjoyed on the level of a comedy, but there is so much more there to reward a deeper reading - or multiple readings - as well.
Here's a gem of a response from acclaimed Kiwi novelist Catherine Chidgey (in a Facebook post reproduced with kind permission): "Among other things, it's a meditation on the creative process, and the obstacles to it, and manages to be both witty and moving."

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A posthumous conversation with the reader (The Australian)

There's a major review of Janet Frame's new novel today in The Australian newspaper (4th May 2013):

"IN the Memorial Room is not just a brilliant novel but a considered and poignant posthumous literary act, a curtain call by one of the world's greatest authors, New Zealander Janet Frame, who died in 2004." Read more

" a deeply funny book, containing elements of satire: of the literary world, of society and rituals, including much about ageing and the myth of a life as a journey"

"Frame's character descriptions are wonderfully perceptive"

"Frame's books and stories always have moments of lightness, a fact people sometimes forget due to her life being overshadowed by tragedy and, ironically, misunderstanding."

 The reviewer (writer and critic Angela Meyer of the Literary Minded blog) concludes:

"All Frame's books are hearty, hardy trees. They should be visited often. It's a delight to have this one revealed, standing strong and tall, palpably alive, alongside the others."

Friday, May 3, 2013

"A deliciously mischievous piece of fun" (Booktopia)

"[In the Memorial Room] shows a very different and much lighter personality"

Caroline Baum has reviewed In the Memorial Room for Booktopia Buzz (May 2013):

"Well, who'd have thought! Forget the thin skinned sensitivity of the Janet Frame you associate with An Angel at My Table. This gem ... [In the Memorial Room] ... shows a very different and much lighter personality."

"A deliciously mischievous piece of fun, this is sharp social satire, ruthless in its mockery of literary pretension."

  Booktopia (Australia)


Another speech from the launch of Gorse is Not People

Launch of Gorse is Not People by Janet Frame
15 August 2012, University Book Shop Dunedin
'Thank you' speech by Pamela Gordon: 

As Janet Frame’s literary executor, this is a fulfilling moment. There are fine stories in this book that have been silent for too long a time. "Silence has found its voice" – and it has been a huge privilege to be a part of that.
I have a lot of people to thank.

First, to Denis Harold, my co-executor, co-editor, and life partner – who else would have the wisdom, strength, imagination and knowledge to persist on this challenging path? I don’t know. I salute his faithfulness to who Janet Frame was as a person, as an artist and as his friend.
I acknowledge the Frame estate’s literary agent Andrew Wylie in New York (and his colleagues especially Tracy Bohan, Jin Auh and Jackie Ko) for recognising ‘Gorse is Not People’ as a masterpiece and for offering it to the New Yorker. And credit to all the editors of the journals who have enthused about Frame’s unpublished stories (including the New Yorker, Granta, A Public Space, Zoetrope).

Thanks go to Geoff Walker who wanted this collection for Penguin NZ. And to Debra Millar who took the project over from Geoff. Thanks to Catherine O’Loughlin, Gillian Tewsley and Claire Gummer who all worked closely with us on the publisher’s copy edit.
Anna Egan-Reid designed the book and isn’t it an exquisite object? Her work on Janet Frame in Her  Own Words (the text as well as the cover) was rightfully acclaimed when that book won ‘Best Non-Illustrated Book’ in the 2012 PANZ Book Design Awards.

We’re grateful to the Woollaston Estate for kind permission to reproduce Toss Woollaston’s wonderful painting ‘Upper Moutere’ on the dust jacket.
Thanks go to the Hocken Library archivists and other staff who look after Janet Frame’s manuscripts. Thanks also to the Janet Frame Literary Trust, our current and former trustees and other supporters and advisors.

I also want to acknowledge the three authors present here tonight whose names are on the growing list of the writers who have received grants from Janet Frame’s legacy – Peter Olds, Rhian Gallagher and Emma Neale. May there be many more opportunities over the years to add to this list. Congratulations to Rhian for her win this year at the NZ Post Book Awards for the best book of poetry published in New Zealand in 2011. I had the honour of speaking at the launch of Shift here in this bookshop last year and it has been a real pleasure to see that volume getting the accolades it so richly deserves.
And Emma Neale – esteemed Robert Burns fellow this year! (following in the footsteps of Janet Frame and so many others) - thank you so much for your beautifully expressed launch speech tonight. It’s a joy to hear such a sensitive and erudite response to these stories. [Click this link to read Emma Neale's launch speech.]

I’m not going to talk about the stories themselves now, because Emma has introduced them so well.
I just want to say, that if Janet Frame herself were here tonight, she would, I’m sure, be at pains to point out that she wouldn’t want Charles Brasch or Frank Sargeson to be seen as the villains of this piece. Her message for writers who receive seemingly devastating setbacks is this (from her autobiography): “A writer must stand on the rock of her self and her judgment or be swept away by the tide or sink in the quaking earth: there must be an inviolate place where the choices and decisions, however imperfect, are the writer’s own.”

Many thanks to the UBS for hosting this launch. Congratulations on your 50 years in this very building that is so connected to the literary history of Dunedin. May you have many more!
Thanks to Bronwyn Wylie-Gibb and the legendary Bill Noble of the UBS for organising and hosting this launch, and to the folks at Pearson NZ for their generous assistance, and thanks to everyone who has helped out (including picking the glorious bunch of gorse!).

Finally thanks to all of you who are here to celebrate with us, friends, family, Frame fans, teachers, academics, librarians, book sellers, fellow writers, thanks for your company and continuing support.
It is so good to have this launch right here, surrounded by the gorse covered hills of Dunedin.


"amusing fish-out-of-water story" (Readings)

The excellent independent booksellers Readings of Australia have put up a review of Janet Frame's novel In the Memorial Room. Nicole Mansour, Assistant Manager of the St Kilda store, says:

"Without question, In the Memorial Room captures Frame’s own particular awareness of the universe around her. As a reflective journal, it gives the reader a beautiful window into the author at work. And while the end may leave some without a real feeling of resolution, Frame’s amusing fish-out-of-water story doesn’t actually need any explanation, for it explores not only the writer’s condition, but also the human one."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What they were saying (NY Mag 1991)

 New York Magazine 29 July 1991

Review of Jane Campion's AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE

 "Jane Campion has made a dry and plain movie from the rapturously lyrical autobiography of the New Zealand writer Janet Frame. The astringency of Campion's visual palette is nevertheless pleasing, and Kerry Fox, a large actress with a thatch of unmanageable red hair, plays the morbidly shy Janet with a streak of vagrant sensuality. Campion revels in the joke that this awkward, unprepossessing woman, diagnosed as a schizophrenic and subjected to electroshock therapy, could emerge as a major writer, but she emphasizes the shyness so much that we never see the aggressive intelligence, the sensibility, the taste - whatever it was that made Frame a writer. Campion appears to love victimization more than art."

More than twenty years later, largely due to the influence of the Campion movie, which has become a much-loved enduring classic, a few new fallacies have been added to the misconceptions that Frame originally attempted to challenge by writing her autobiography in the first place.

(1) The subsequent success of the movie - and its director - has led to the farcical claim one hears these days that Janet Frame was not in fact a major literary figure UNTIL Campion's 'biopic' elevated her out of obscurity.

(2) The casting of 'large' actors to play Frame has also led to a belief that Frame herself - who was thin as a young woman - was overweight.

(3) Campion's exaggeration of Frame's shyness - noted in the above review - has also enabled autism extremists to claim Frame had severe social and communicative disabilities.

It's just a movie guys - a beautiful, haunting one - it's not documentary evidence.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Life after death


In the late Janet Frame's new novel In the Memorial Room, she even seems to satirise herself:

"There is such intense interest in Rose Hurndell’s works, more so, naturally, now that she is dead and her last poems have been compared in their purity and otherworldliness, their vision of death, to the Requiem music which Mozart left unfinished, and although they were written before her death they have the effect of being posthumous, of actually being written after death."

(from the prologue to In The Memorial Room by Janet Frame, Text, 2013)


A Korean Angel at My Table

From Sigongsa a two-volume Korean edition of Janet Frame's complete autobiography. (2013)