Tracy Farr is an Australian-born author who now resides in Wellington. Her short fiction has been published in anthologies and literary journals, and has won awards including the 2014 Sunday Star-Times Short Story Award. Her debut novel, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt (Fremantle Press), published in 2013, was longlisted in 2014 for Australia’s Miles Franklin Literary Award. Her short fiction and her debut novel have been adapted for air and broadcast on RNZ National. Her second novel, The Hope Fault (Fremantle Press), was published in 2017.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Farr, Tracy (1962 - ) was born in Melbourne and grew up in Perth. She attended the University of Western Australia and completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Microbiology, and went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.
Farr has predominately worked as a research scientist at universities and a number of scientific organizations like NIWA, Ag Research and Te Papa. After she graduated, Farr lived and worked in Australia, before moving to Canada between 1991 and 1996. She then moved to New Zealand, and worked for the Royal Society of New Zealand between 2011 and 2015. She currently works in freelance communications and administration.
Farr’s short fiction has been published in both Australia and New Zealand. She has had two stories published in the yearly anthology The Best New Zealand Fiction; ‘The Blind Astronomer’ in Volume One (2004) and ‘Surface Tension’ in Volume Three (2006). Other short stories have been published in literary journals such as Turbine, Sport, and Westerly, magazines such as The Listener, and broadcast on Radio New Zealand National.
In 2008 Farr was the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Katharine Susannah Pritchard Writers Centre in Australia, and in 2009 she was a visiting writer at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Auckland.
Her short fiction has been well commended and has won a number of awards. ‘The Blind Astronomer’ was the Runner Up in the 2001 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, and her story ‘Once Had Me’ won the 2014 Sunday Star Times Short Story Award. Judge Sarah Quigley was impressed by Farr’s confident narrative voice and she described it as being ‘deceptively casual and colloquial, yet displaying an unfaltering authorial control.’
Farr’s debut novel, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt (Fremantle Press), was first published in 2013. It was well received. In 2014 the novel was short-listed for the Barbara Jefferis Award and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award, and was long-listed for Miles Franklin Literary Award. The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt was published in the US, Europe and UK in 2016 by UK imprint Aardvark Bureau.
The novel revolves around the life of fictional musician Lena Gaunt who plays the Theremin, an early and mysterious electronic instrument that can be played without being touched. The separation between musician and music required to play the Theremin is a recurrent motif through the two narrative strands that comprise Farr’s fictional biography. The first is of a film maker, an outsider, who wishes to document the life of Lena Gaunt. The second is Gaunt’s perspective herself as an octogenarian – reflective, detached, an observer of the music she once lived.
In a review for the New Zealand Listener, Hazel Phillips wrote that the narration is characterised by ‘a series of vignettes related in rich language,’ that make for ‘compelling reading.’ A similar view is espoused by Jeanette Delamoir in the Newtown Review of Books, where she praised the novel that, like ‘its narrator, […] is unconventional, sometimes irritating, but always intelligent, intriguing and very closely controlled.’
In her review for New Zealand Books Pukupuka Aotearoa, Elizabeth Heritage wrote that ‘Lena Gaunt is a powerfully imagined character possessed of a vivid emotional landscape. Her sensuality is intensely evoked, not only through her music and relationships but through her lifelong love of the sea.’ . ‘Lena, and Farr’s writing, charm, delight and seduce," Elizabeth wrote. "Go read, and let yourself be played.’
Patrick Allington, writing in the Adelaide Advertiser, also praised Farr, as her ‘sparkling debut novel captures the spirit of an accomplished woman as she reflects on the arc of her long life.’
In 2014 Tracy Farr was the R.A.K. Mason Writer's Fellow. The fellowship entailed a three week retreat to the countryside of Wairarapa during which she worked on her forthcoming novel The Hope Fault. She has also been awarded the 2015 Varuna Second Book Residential Fellowship, where she completed a two week retreat to Varuna Writer’s House in 2015.
In 2015 she was also awarded the inaugural Mildura Writers Festival Residency. She spent the month of July 2015 living in Mildura, revising The Hope Fault, teaching writing workshops, attending the Festival, and blogging about the festival and the residency.
Farr's second novel The Hope Fault was published in March 2017 by Fremantle Press. Anna Smaill author of The Chimes (longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize) endorsed the book thus: "Brilliantly captures both the prickly detail and the slow geological shifts of family life. It is an intricate, intimate novel – and utterly humane".
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
- Sample chapter from The Hope Fault
- Sample chapter from The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt
- Tracy Farr author website
- Newtown Review of Books – The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt
- New Zealand Listener review (PDF ) – The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt
- Tracy Farr interview on Radio New Zealand National
- Sunday Star Times Short Stories Award Winner – (included is Farr’s winning story)
- Read about The Hope Fault on Tracy's website
- Follow Tracy on Twitter
- Follow Tracy on Facebook
Updated March 2017.