Thursday, July 23, 2015

Maurice Gee - superb biography published by Victoria University Press

Maurice Gee is one of New Zealand’s greatest fiction writers. His long literary career began in the 1950s and includes seventeen adult novels, thirteen novels for children, a short story collection, and screenplays for television and film. His work is loved by generations of readers and has earned him many awards.

In this revelatory new work, acclaimed biographer Rachel Barrowman interweaves the story of Gee’s life with his fiction, illuminating the unassuming ‘man in the grey cardy’ alongside his unsettling stories. Immaculately researched, with full access to her subject and his records, Maurice Gee: Life and Work offers a fascinating portrait of a writing life.

Gee once described himself as ‘a New-Zealandy sort of writer living in a New-Zealandy sort of place . . . writing New-Zealandy sort of books’. His work has always drawn from a particular, personal New Zealand; his fictional territory takes in the domestic lives and landscapes of New Zealand’s provincial towns and middle-class suburbs—places where murders happen, where families hurt and self-destruct. Through decades of changing literary fashions, Gee has gone on doing his own thing, seeking out ‘evidence of disorder, passion, of the primitive thing’.

Maurice Gee: Life and Work explores the connections and paradoxes of a private man who has written his life into fiction. It is a compelling story of a life and a major contribution to New Zealand literary history. 

The book is well titled because we have both Gee's personal life in full and often frank detail and also all his writing is discussed in significant and thoughtful detail.

I do not know what books will be published between now and year end but my guess is that Maurice Gee : Life & Work will prove to be the most significant piece of New Zealand publishing this year.My warm congratulations to the author for her fine literary biography and to the publisher for such care in producing such a  handsome book. I shall treasure it.

Maurice Gee: Life & Work
Victoria University Press
Hardback - $60.00
ISBN 9780864739926

About the author:
Rachel Barrowman is a biographer and historian. She is the author of Mason: The Life of R.A.K. Mason, which won the 2004 Montana New Zealand Book Award for Biography and Memoir, A Popular Vision: The Arts and the Left in New Zealand, 1930–1950, The Turnbull: A Library and Its World and Victoria University of Wellington 1899–1999, A History. In 2006 she received New Zealand’s biggest literary award, the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers’ Fellowship, to research and write this book.
Rachel will be interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand National this Saturday and then will appear at the Going West Festival later in the year.

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