Three New Zealand Authors of Note: Background information when reading The Memory of Love

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The Memory of Love

by Linda Olsson

The Memory of Love by Linda Olsson
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    Feb 2013, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

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Beyond the Book:
Three New Zealand Authors of Note

Print Review

The Memory of Love is mainly set in New Zealand where Swedish author Linda Olsson spends half the year. She spends the other half in her native Sweden. Olsson's novels have enjoyed worldwide readership, something, she says that most New Zealand authors rarely experience. There are brilliant New Zealand writers, Olsson says, whom many in the larger English-reading world have not heard of. Here are three to put on your to-read list:

Kerii Hulme Keri Hulme was born in 1947 to Scottish, English and Maori (native inhabitants of New Zealand) parentage, Hulme's only novel The Bone People, won the Man Booker Prize in 1985. As of 2012, she is the only New Zealander to win this coveted prize. The Bone People analyzes the intersection between European and Maori descendents and culture. Hulme practiced law and picked tobacco before becoming a full-time writer and university lecturer.

Janet Frame Janet Frame was born in 1924. She is the author of 11 adult novels and one for younger readers, a poetry collection, and an autobiographical trilogy. Her mental illness and stories stemming from it, contributed to her fame. After a suicide attempt she spent much of the next eight years in various mental hospitals, during which time she was given about 200 electroshock treatments as she was believed to have schizophrenia. She was saved from a scheduled lobotomy when a volume of her short stories won a national literary prize. Some years later, an American-trained psychiatrist working in London proposed that she did not have schizophrenia - a conclusion that did not please Frame who later wrote, "'Oh why had they robbed me of my schizophrenia, which had been the answer to all my misgivings about myself?'' She began regular therapy sessions with psychoanalyst Robert Hugh Cawley, who encouraged her to write; seven of her novels are dedicated to him.

She won the the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1989 for her final novel, The Carpathians. According to the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, ''Ms. Frame created romantic visionaries - eccentrics, mad people, epileptics - and pitted them against the repressive forces of a sterile, conformist society.'' Frame died from leukemia in 2004 after being one of the first recipients of the New Zealand Icon Award. Counterpoint Press will be publishing a collection of Frame's work in May.

Owen Marshall Owen Marshall, born in 1941, is the pen name for Owen Marshall Jones, a prominent New Zealand novelist and short story writer. He is often considered to be the finest short story writer in New Zealand. His novel Harlequin Rex won the 2000 Deutz Medal for Fiction. Before he was a full-time writer, Marshall taught for 25 years. He became an Officer for the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature in 2000.

Keri Hulme picture from Man Booker Prize
Janet Frame picture from The Arts Foundation of New Zealand
Owen Marshall picture from his website

This article is from the March 20, 2013 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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