Thursday, July 20, 2017

Janet Frame Fiction Prize 2017 to Catherine Chidgey

Announcement of the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award 2017
Thursday 20 July 2017
Catherine Chidgey
Photo: Helen Mayall
Waikato novelist Catherine Chidgey has been named as the recipient of a Janet Frame Literary Trust Award worth $5,000. Catherine Chidgey is the author of four highly acclaimed novels including  her latest book The Wish Child which picked up the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. The Wish Child has been a bestseller in New Zealand and has just been published in the UK by Chatto & Windus, with US publication to follow in 2018.
In accepting the Janet Frame Fiction Prize 2017, Catherine Chidgey said: “Janet Frame was my first literary hero and still is my number one. Her books have always been very close to my heart, and so important to my development as a writer.  The timing of the award could not be better, given the recent international release of my novel The Wish Child.”

Chatto & Windus Cover 2017
Catherine Chidgey was born in Auckland and has lived in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Germany. Her next novel The Beat of the Pendulum is due to be published in November this year and she is already working on another one.
Janet Frame’s niece and executor Pamela Gordon said “Catherine Chidgey has won almost every award and fellowship going in New Zealand, so much so that it might seem too much to offer her another prize, but Janet Frame herself was a great example of the fact that an established writer can never have too much encouragement. The Wish Child is an extraordinary book and Catherine deserves the accolades she has received in her career. We also wish her well for the writing she is currently undertaking.”

Janet Frame in 2003
Photo: Reg Graham

Janet Frame founded the Janet Frame Literary Trust in 1999 and bequeathed her royalty income to an endowment fund. Since Janet Frame’s death in 2004 the trust has awarded $115,000 in grants and donations to benefit New Zealand authors.

More information on the Janet Frame Literary Trust Awards:

More information on Catherine Chidgey:
VUP Cover 2016

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Walk-on parts for Janet Frame in 2 films at the NZIFF 2017

Something for Frame fans to diary: Two New Zealand films screening at the NZ International Film Festival this year reference Janet Frame.

Bill Direen

Bill Direen: A Memory of Others by director Simon Ogston premieres at the Auckland Festival on August 4 and 5. In the film poet/indie musician/author Bill Direen visits Janet Frame's childhood home in Oamaru and reads beautifully from a passage of her writing.

A Memory of Others will screen in Wellington on August 12 and 13, in Christchurch on August 19 and 20 and in Dunedin on August 26 and 27.

The other film is the one about Janet's fascinating and talented friend Sheila Natusch nee Traill. No Ordinary Sheila also plays in all four main centres during August 2017. See the link for dates.

Sheila Natusch


Reprint of 1985 Janet Frame Interview in NZWW

"I wish you would all believe me."

In this week's NZ Woman's Weekly (July 24, 2017) there is a 2-page reprint of a 1985 interview with Janet Frame written by Tony Reid.
In the interview Frame strenuously challenges the myths about her supposed life of extreme poverty, isolation and friendlessness.
"I do enjoy happiness," she says.  "I'm a great lover of fun and laughter. I wish you would all believe me. Please do!"

"A likeable, humorous lady with a great appetite for life."

"I am a human being." ~ Janet Frame

How sad that Janet Frame felt she had to prove she was human. She certainly was, and still is by some, treated as though she didn't have human rights or dignity. I guess she became depersonalised in that way because people used to do that to other people if they knew they had been psychiatric patients. Frame explored this theme in her brilliant science fiction novel Intensive Care, in which humans are classified as human or animal. She was writing from a position of experience of being treated as if her own agency was not worth respecting.

It's an interesting and revealing interview combined with a review of Janet Frame's autobiography and it's timely to see it again given that there are still those who make a career of Not Believing Janet Frame. These self-appointed *experts* want to silence Frame yet again. One of the methods of suppression of her humanity seems to be now to write real person fiction about a fake *Janet Frame*. To perform a literary lobotomy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Janet Frame Audio Book

Coming soon: an audio book of Janet Frame's 13th and last published novel In the Memorial Room.

 Bolinda will release the audio book on the 28th of July 2017 as 4 discs and as an MP3. The narrator is Humphrey Bower and the text is unabridged, taking 4 hours and 38 minutes to read.

ISBN: 9781489399687  Genres: Fiction; Literary Fiction

In the Memorial Room by Janet Frame was described by The Australian as "A curtain call by one of the world's greatest authors", by the New York Times as "a short, funny and often beautifully written novel", and by Radio New Zealand as "Genuinely laugh out loud funny". The Sunday Star-Times reviewer said: "It is a formidable work. It is also amusing and satirical, poetic and provocative - a real joy to read."

 'a beautifully crafted artistic and philosophical creation that explores the nature of communication and exposes Frame's love of language ...' ~ Library Journal

Click here for a further selection of quotes from reviews.

In the Memorial Room is a brilliant black
comedy, by the celebrated author of An Angel at My Table.

'marvelous experimental fiction ... Brilliant.' ~ Kirkus (starred review)

US edition of the book published by Counterpoint Press
Australasian edition of the book published by Text Publishing

Also available as an ebook.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Yet Another Novel About Janet Frame

It has a pretty cover. There is a little Janet on the beach, with no face, washed over by wave upon wave upon wave.

No face. Interesting, isn't it, that the graphic designer has gone right to the heart of the matter of the erasure of the real person being exploited by this 'real person fiction'.

There is probably a thesis in it, in the no-face tiny not-really-Janet.

The novel is Kirkkaus by a Finnish novelist, and anything I can tell you about it comes via the assistance of Google Translate. It is apparently a fictional autobiography written in the first person as its main character Janet Frame, and it follows Frame's early life until the age of forty (Janet Frame's own 3-volume autobiography finishes at the exact same age: 40).

Why would you write a fake autobiography of someone who wrote a world famous autobiography?

Jalonen claims not to have read any of Janet Frame's own work until after she wrote Kirkkaus. She got the biographical stories she bases her book on, she says (I think) from Michael King's biography of Frame.

But Michael King's biography covers Janet Frame's life until she was in her late 70s. Jalonen's 'Janet' stops at age 40. Jalonen  appears to be drawing her inspiration from an autobiography she claims not to have read. Unless she thinks Frame's autobiography does not constitute part of her literary 'work'. I have encountered that fallacy before. It is as though the great memoir wrote itself, and this fallacy is, I believe, another aspect of the tendency to dehumanise Janet Frame, to strip her of her agency and self-determination. The obliteration of her face, if you like.

Ah but of course Jalonen probably saw Jane Campion's film adaptation of Janet Frame's autobiography, and Jalonen would not be the first person to have decided she knew Janet Frame better than Janet knew herself, from having watched a movie about her.

Jalonen's story ends, apparently, with Frame returning from England to her parents' empty house, which sounds awfully like one of the last scenes of AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE. The powerful visuals in that movie have convinced many people that they were there, that they saw Janet, that they knew how she was feeling, what she was thinking.

Without ever having read Janet Frame's own work.

So there she is, tiny Janet, marooned on the shore, washed over by the tides she is helpless to defend herself against. The authors of the fan fiction probably think of little Janet as helpless against her own emotion, or whatever twisted fantasy about Frame they are pushing.

For me the little faceless Janet speaks of the perfect little puppet for the author to project their own obsessions onto. Lying there stranded on the shore to be snapped up by the opportunistic beachcomber who can't make up their own story but has to steal somebody else's.

Janet Frame is not just her 'own best character'. She is also the author of her books, including her life story, and the deliberate distortions of her biography are not just morally reprehensible, they verge on plagiarism.