Monday, December 2, 2013

New Zealander of the Year 1957

New Zealander of the Year 1957: Janet Frame
The New Zealand Herald recently celebrated its 150th Anniversary and as part of the commemorations ran a retrospective "New Zealander of the Year" series. Janet Frame was extended this honour twice. The first time was for 1957, the year her second book Owls Do Cry was first published. (Her first book, The Lagoon and other stories, was published in 1952.)

'Janet Frame: Literary spellbinder'

By 1957 Janet Frame was living on the Spanish island of Ibiza and writing the manuscript of her exquisitely tragic fable The Mijo Tree. Just as it has taken 56 years for Janet Frame to be identified as "New Zealander of the Year 1957", it has also taken until 2013 for the fable she wrote in 1957 to be published. The Mijo Tree is one of several manuscripts that Janet Frame did not publish in her lifetime either because she self censored them or in some cases because of spectacularly misguided editorial gate keeping at the time. (Frame was a literary pioneer, ahead of her time, and she was a puzzle to some of her contemporaries.) Frame carefully preserved these manuscripts to be assessed and published after her death.

Penguin Books NZ has recently released a beautifully designed hardback edition of The Mijo Tree, illustrated by Deidre Copeland, including a biographical afterword and a useful chronology of the highlights of Janet Frame's career as one of the great 20th century writers.

The Mijo Tree by Janet Frame (1957, 2013)

No comments: