The literary world will be a much sadder place after the announcement of the death of Anita Shreve. She was a very popular, internationally acclaimed, bestselling author. Before becoming a full time novelist she was a teacher and a journalist. She really came into the public arena with “The weight of water” published in 1997 which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and turned into a film by Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow. Her most recent novel was “The stars are fire” published in 2017. Her books often revolved around the after effects of one single dramatic event and she liked to explore the subtleties of human relationships in often a highly nuanced and skilled fashion.
The very popular historical thriller writer Philip Kerr has died of cancer aged 62. Born in Scotland he became a full time writer in 1989, beginning his career with the character Bernie Gunther and the ‘Berlin Noir’ trilogy. He continued with ten more novels featuring Bernie Gunther and the third titled, If the Dead Rise Not, published in 2009, won several Crime Writing awards. Fifteen other novels were published, two non-fiction and ten books of fiction for children, these under the pseudonym of P. B. Kerr.
His last novel published this year is titled Greeks Bearing Gifts, again featuring the character Bernie Gunther.
The accomplished feminist New Zealand writer Beryl Fletcher has died aged 80.
She graduated from Waikato University in 1979 with a master’s degree in Sociology. She went on to study and lecture, until her first short story was published in 1964, and she decided to become a fiction writer. Her first novel The Word Burners, published in 1991 won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best First Book, Asia/Pacific region. Four other novels followed, her last published in 1999 titled The Bloodwood Clan. She spent many years as writer in residence in universities located in Waikato, New York, and Wellington. She also taught memoir at Humboldt University in Germany. She believed the role of a feminist writer was to open and expand ideas by exploring older texts, situations or opinions.
The popular British author Penny Vincenzi, author of 17 novels and two collections of short stories, has died aged 78. Her writing career began as a fashion journalist, working for various publications that included the Daily Mirror and Vogue. Old Sins was the title of her first novel published in 1989. Her novels have sold over 7 million copies internationally. Her last novel A Question of Trust was published in 2017.
Ursula Le Guin was also an essayist, poet and writer of non-fiction. Her novels have won five Locus, two Hugo and four Nebula awards. She has received nineteen Reader’s Choice Locus awards, far surpassing any other fantasy writer.
Recently the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Award winners were announced. The Best Crime Novel was awarded to Fiona Sussman for her novel titled The Last Time We Spoke.
The Best First Novel prize was awarded to Finn Bell, for his novel titled Dead Lemons.
The Ngaio Marsh Awards originated in 2010 for excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing. In 2016 the award for best First Novel was added and in 2017 another category was also added for the Best Non Fiction.
The Swedish Academy has awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature to British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. Born in Japan in 1954, his family moved to Britain in 1960 and he became a British citizen in 1982. After studying English and Philosophy, he went on to study creative writing, for which his thesis became his first published novel, A Pale View of Hills, in 1982.
He has since had seven novels published and much short fiction, four screenplays and several song lyrics. His work has received many awards including the 1989 Booker Prize for The remains of the Day; this was adapted to film in 2003. His novel Never Let Me Go, published in 2005 was also adapted to film in 2010.
Kazuo Ishiguro’s most recent novel, titled The Buried Giant was published in 2015.
A city’s image is always complex, and Wellington is no exception. For over 150 years it’s had to contend with being a capital city; being in the middle of the country; being on unstable ground. From these complexities an identity has emerged, what Lonely Planet described as “a little city with a big rep”. But beside this identity is another, more marginal Wellington, and one writer has been described as the “keeper of its keys”: Geoff Cochrane.
My barista asks me where he can find my books, and
I’m not exactly thrilled by this development. My barista
thinks I’m a great bloke, currently, and I don’t want him
reading my books and changing his mind.
Cochrane has lived in Wellington for most of his life. While he started writing at an early age, it wasn’t until Victoria University Press released Aztec Noon: Poems 1976-1992 that he first found a home at a mainstream publisher. He has gone on to win numerous awards, including the Janet Frame Prize for Poetry and a 2014 Laureate Award, as well as regular appearances in Best New Zealand Poems.
Despite these accolades, Cochrane’s work continues to evoke Wellington’s physical–and literary–boundaries. His latest poetry collection, RedEdits, takes the reader to the Warehouse in Rongotai, to A&E, to his barista. It reveals the butt of his cigarettes, a drop of his blood, a verandah in Levin.
Points of Interest
Sand and water make up 99% of fracking fluid.
Winston Churchill did without a close male friend.
Nembutal is the trade name of sodium pentobarbital.
Michelangelo completed his Pietà at the age of 25.
(According to Martin Amis, wars get old.
Get grizzled and smelly and rotten and mad,
and the bigger they are the faster they age.)
Cochrane’s writing has been called “one of the great pleasures” of New Zealand literature. Writer Pip Adam has described it as “a joy to me, a solace, a proof that art can be made in New Zealand which shows ourselves in new ways.” To discover this proof for yourself, check out RedEdits at Wellington City Libraries.
The shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize has recently been announced. Six novels from the long list of thirteen have been chosen by the panel of judges. Two American authors, Paul Auster and George Saunders, are included in the selection, along with two previously shortlisted authors, Pakistani Mohsin Hamid and Scottish Ali Smith. Two debut British authors complete the list. The winner of the £50,000 award will be announced on 17th October 2017 in London.