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  A taster from Janet Frame's previously unpublished novel In the Memorial Room

I do not remember these things
– they remember me,
not as a child or woman but as their last excuse
to stay, not wholly to die.

      Janet Frame ‘The Place’, as quoted on the Janet Frame NZBC Literary poster

Janet Frame, who passed away in 2004, is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most distinguished writers, and a brief glance at her Book Council Writers file underscores her standing in our literary culture:

Among her numerous honours, Frame is a Member of the Order of New Zealand, a Nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature and an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She was among ten of New Zealand’s greatest living artists named as Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Artists in 2003. Traumatic childhood events and other life experiences find displaced fictional treatment in her writing; nevertheless, Frame warned against the ‘blurring of the fine distinction between the writer’s work and the writer’s life’ — the naive treatment of her fictional creations as autobiography.

This month Text Publishing Australia release Janet Frame’s unpublished novel In the Memorial Room, a black comedy that draws on the author’s own experiences in Menton, France as the 1974 Katherine Mansfield Fellow:

Harry Gill, a moderately successful writer of historical fiction, has been awarded the annual Watercress-Armstrong Fellowship—a ‘living memorial’ to the poet, Margaret Rose Hurndell. He arrives in the French Riviera town of Menton, where Hurndell once lived and worked, to write. But the Memorial Room is not suitable—it has no electricity or water. Hurndell never wrote here, though it is expected of Harry.

We are very pleased to be able to share a taster of the novel, courtesy of Text Publishing Australia. Click through to the Book Council's blog Open Book to read Chapter One of In the Memorial Room. We also have ten copies of the book to give away, courtesy of Text. Details follow on the blog.

Five Easy Questions with Fleur Adcock

Fleur Adcock is a poet, editor and translator. To celebrate the release of her new collection of poetry Glass Wings (May 2013), Adcock will appear in conversation with Harry Ricketts at the Adam Art Gallery on May 6th at 6.00pm. We ask her a few quick questions about her latest book.

1. How would you describe Glass Wings in a few words?

A gift to me from the Muse in my declining years. (Not the last gift, I'm happy to say: I'm already well into my next collection of poems).

2. Glass Wings includes a section of poems called ‘My life with Arthropods’. What drew you to observations of insect and human cohabitation?

I've always been fascinated by insects and miniature forms of life. Small children live close to the ground and have very keen eyesight; I shouldn't like to try counting the legs on a centipede now. For years I've been writing poems about what my friends refer to as ‘creepy crawlies’. I have a deep affection for spiders, for example, and was slightly embarrassed when I once had to send the window cleaner away because my front window-panes were occupied by the works of art constructed by several beautiful orb web spiders. I'm not too keen on mosquitoes, but I thought they deserved a poem: I was delighted to discover that I'm not actually allergic to the Auckland ones, having evidently developed an immunity to them in my early childhood. My arthropods sequence covers ‘nice insects’ – we all love butterflies – and less nice ones; it includes the only poem I'm aware of about pubic lice.

Read the full Five Easy Questions Q&A on the Book Council's blog Open Book.

Book Council News

Go Harry’s Hikoi! Amazing reader-responses to Sydney Bridge Upside Down

Last month we teamed up with Taki Rua to bring you one mighty event called Harry’s Hikoi. About 300 free copies of Kiwi writer David Ballantyne’s Sydney Bridge Upside Down have been distributed throughout New Zealand, with readers encouraged to 'pay it forward' and share their free copy with as many people as possible. Harry’s Hikoi was launched on the 11th of March 2013 and will run for 12 weeks throughout Aotearoa.

Here are just a few of the amazing responses from readers so far:

A mesmerising story, beautifully paced. I'm waiting now to have time to go back and re-read more slowly and thoughtfully
Ariane Craige-Smith

Enjoyed the snapshot of life in a bygone era, and the tantalising clues strung out through the book. However, while I can see that it would be great for students of literature, the long tracts of stream-of-consciousness content written as a single paragraph, up to 11 pages in parts, made it tough going in places for this late-night reader - hard to maintain focus and stay awake!
Penny Ramsdale

Stirred up memories of having grown up in a rural township. 'Bopping' 'sexual fantasies' 'crabby teachers' 'mysterious events' and the like. Even owned a nag like Sydney Bridge Upside Down
Te Rangi Crawford

Follow the rest of the reading journey on the Harry's Hikoi Facebook page.


New Zealand Book Council/Creative New Zealand 2013 International Travel Fund grants announced

New Zealand authors will attend high-profile international literary festivals and share our literary culture and heritage on the world stage with assistance from New Zealand Book Council/Creative New Zealand International Travel Fund grants. Eleanor Catton, Aki Fukuoka, Charlotte Grimshaw, C.K. Stead, Fiona Kidman, Kate De Goldi, Dylan Horrocks, and Rhiann Gallagher will be supported through the Book Council’s/Creative New Zealand's International Programme to attend a range of upcoming international literary events. The purpose of the fund is to support and showcase New Zealand writing talent at a range of key international writing festivals. Read the full press release here.

What's new on

Five Easy Questions with American poet and essayist Mary Ruefle

We celebrated Mary Ruefle's appearance in Wellington at the first Writers on Mondays event of the year on April 15 by asking her a few questions about her writing craft and current obsessions: "By way of a metaphor I will tell you that my favourite places to visit are cemeteries, and when I go to a new place, the first thing I want to see is the graveyard." Read Five Easy Questions with Mary Ruefle here.

Competition and residency opportunities

Please note this is just a sample of the wide variety of literary opportunities we post regularly in the news page on our website:

The University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence

The University of Otago invites applications for the Children's Writer in Residence for the year 2014 from writers who are New Zealanders or normally resident in New Zealand.

The University of Otago is the only tertiary institute in New Zealand which offers a residency for a children's writer. Begun by the Dunedin College of Education in 1992, it allows writers to work full time in a compatible environment among colleagues who are concerned with the teaching of reading and literature to children. Remuneration of $28,000 is jointly funded by the University and Creative New Zealand.

The residency is open to established children's writers who are normally resident in New Zealand. The annual residency is for a six month period between February and August and includes an office within the College.

The residency is offered in association with the Robert Lord Trust which provides rent-free accommodation to writers in the historic Titan Street cottage bequeathed by the late playwright Robert Lord.

Applications close 1 June 2013. For more information visit the University of Otago website.


The New Zealand Book Council receives core funding from Creative New Zealand. We are extremely grateful to our funding partners, who enable us to deliver our programmes. We also value your membership, which supports our work in schools and communities throughout New Zealand.
2013 is already proving to be an amazing year for books and reading and we want nothing more than to share news, views and giveaways with you on our Facebook page.
And if you're more of a tweeter then follow us on Twitter. We'd love to see you each Friday for our fun competition #fridayshorts, one of the shortest short story competitions around.

Mrs Margaret Holmes (Whangarei) and R & C Hargreaves (Dunedin) have each won a copy of the latest issue of NZ Books: A Quarterly Review and a copy each of the latest issue of our booklovers magazine Booknotes. Thanks for all your entries.

This month we have two copies of Fleur Adcock's latest poetry collection Glass Wings to give away, courtesy of Victoria University Press.

To enter the draw, email  us with the name of the book in the subject line and your New Zealand mailing address in the body of the email: Draw closes 12 noon on Monday May 6.

We also have ten copies of Janet Frame's new novel In the Memorial Room to give away, courtesy of Text Publishing Australia. To enter the draw click through to our Facebook page and follow the entry instructions.

Please note this is only a sample of prizes and awards from the news page on our website:

Ms Huo Yan, a 23-year-old Chinese writer and Ph.D student at Beijing Normal University will take up the first Rewi Alley Writing Fellowship in New Zealand. The new award is offered by the New Zealand China Friendship Association in partnership with the Michael King Writers’ Centre.


Dark Night: Walking With McCahon by New Zealand author Martin Edmond has been shortlisted in the 2013 NSW Premier's Literary Awards for the Douglas Stewart Prize (non-fiction, $40,000). The winners will be announced in May 2013.


Works by three New Zealand writers have been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize: 'Not for Publication' by Rachel Bush; 'Things with Faces' by Zoe Meager and 'Tug of War' by Deborah Rogers.


The Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust has announced the 2013 Storylines Notable Books List (for children's and young adult novels, picture books and non-fiction published in 2012). The list was announced at the Storylines annual Margaret Mahy Day in Auckland on Saturday 6 April. Read the full list of Notable Books here.


The 2012 issue of Best New Zealand Poems has been published online, edited by New Zealand's Poet Laureate Ian Wedde.


An impressive variety of books make up the finalists of this year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. In all, 19 books have been selected as finalists across four categories: best picture book, junior fiction, young adult and non-fiction. The winners from each category will be announced in June. Read about the full list of finalists here.


The three shortlisted titles for the 2013 Science Book Prize are Graft by Helen Heath; Science on Ice: Discovering the Secrets of Antarctica by Veronika Meduna; and Moa: The Life and Death of New Zealand’s Legendary Bird by Quinn Berentson. The 2013 overall winner will be announced at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival on 18 May.


Three New Zealand books have been added to 2013 White Ravens catalogue. The White Raven label is given to books that deserve worldwide attention because of their universal themes and/or their exceptional and often innovative artistic and literary style and design. The New Zealand books that have made the grade this year are: Uncle Trev and his whistling bull by Jack Lasenby; The Word Witch by Margaret Mahy, Tessa Duder and David Elliot; and Melu by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo and John O’Reilly.


Gecko Press won the Bologna Prize for the Best Children's Publisher of the Year in Oceania. The awards went to publishers in each region of Europe, Africa, Asia, central-South America, North America and Oceania, for courageous and innovative publishing in the past year.

Please note this is only a sample of events from the events page on our website:

Auckland Writers & Readers Festival

15-19 May

150 guests from New Zealand and around the world will appear in more than 100 events in the largest programme of writers and sessions yet presented at New Zealand’s premiere festival of literature and ideas, the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival 15-19 May. For full programme details visit the Festival website:

Venue: See website above for details




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Wellington 6011, New Zealand