Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Sunday, September 03, 2017
Part memoir, part travelogue, part story collection
Bleaker House by Nell Stevens
Macmillan, RRP $37. – this
is a book that is currently creating a lot of buzz internationally
When Nell Stevens was given the opportunity to spend three
months in a location of her choice in order to write her novel, she was
determined to rid herself of all distractions. So Nell decided to travel to
Bleaker Island (official population: two) in the Falklands where she would
write 2,500 words a day.
But Bleaker House is not that novel. Instead this is a book
about a young woman realising that the way to writing fiction doesn't necessarily
lie in total solitude and a clear plan. Nor does it lie in a daily ration of
1085 calories, no means of contacting the outside world and a slow descent
towards something that feels worryingly like madness . . .
Hilariously funny, painfully honest, and beautifully
observed, Bleaker House is part memoir, part travelogue, part story collection.
It is an exploration of the narrow spaces between real life and fiction and, in
the end, a book about failing to write a novel, but finally becoming a writer.
Nell Stevens has a First in English and Creative Writing
from Warwick, after which she went on to study Arabic and Comparative
Literature at Harvard, and to receive a Marcia Trimble Fellowship and the
Florence Engel Randall Graduate Fiction Award for her MFA in Fiction at Boston
University. She is currently researching a Ph.D. in Victorian literature at
King's College London. She was a finalist in the 2011 Elle magazine Writing
Talent Contest, and a runner-up in both the 2014 Mslexia Memoir Competition and
the 2015 Mslexia Short Story Prize.