I signed a contract this week that includes provision for a new international edition of Janet Frame's novel Faces in the Water to be published next year, to be distributed in New Zealand as well. That will be good news for teachers and academics and Frame fans in general in New Zealand, as there is not currently a local edition of Faces in print here (there is a current Australian and also a UK edition).
Here in New Zealand we have recently come to the end of the publishing cycle of 'The Janet Frame Collection', a series in which all of the eleven novels that Janet Frame published in her lifetime were brought back into print after her death in 2004. Some of the volumes were double editions, for instance Faces in the Water was coupled with The Edge of the Alphabet.
Not long after those Random House NZ editions began going out of print, I started receiving complaints about the unavailability of certain Janet Frame titles for the purpose of educational reading lists. I couldn't help getting the impression that certain academics, who seemed to have studiously ignored the New Zealand reissues in favour of cheaper overseas editions, seemed to perversely only want to set a particular edition as a text immediately after it was no longer available.
Cue Doors refrain, "you only love her as she's walking out the door..."
The process of negotiating new editions can be long and complicated but I'm happy to report that pretty soon there will be a fresh supply in New Zealand of seven of Janet Frame's most important titles: her three volumes of autobiography in the omnibus edition An Angel at My Table, three of her most significant novels: Faces in the Water, Living in the Maniototo, and Towards Another Summer, and The Daylight and the Dust: Selected Stories. These will all be supplied in the excellent Virago Modern Classic editions.
There are already current Text Classic editions of Janet Frame's first novel Owls Do Cry and her last published one In the Memorial Room, available in Australia and New Zealand.
Considering the current publishing climate this is actually an astonishing feat to have this many titles available (nine) that were written by a literary author. So I do hope that these affordable quality paperback editions are supported by the New Zealand public and educational institutions, because that will make it more likely that publishers will be encouraged to add other Frame titles to their lists.