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Anna Kavan's New Zealand: a Pacific interlude in a turbulent life

book, 2009

New Zealanders live 'in temporary shacks, uneasily, as reluctant campers too far from home', wrote Anna Kavan in a London magazine in 1943. Her seemingly negative comments created a stir both in the UK and New Zealand and suggested Kavan felt nothing but antipathy for the country. However, in researching this prize-winning author of nineteen books, Dr Jennifer Sturm uncovered letters and unpublished short stories written during Kavan's sojourn in New Zealand that show a more complex, affectionate and significant response. Those stories are published here for the first time, along with a fascinating discussion of this experimental writer and talented artist, who struggled with bouts of depression and insecurity, as well as heroin addiction and a stream of unconventional love affairs. Kavan roamed the world trying to find a home, and although her stay in New Zealand was for less than two years, her stories reveal a country where she found temporary peace, a country she captures in a warm and astute gaze. This book provides an intriguing insight, not only into the life and writing of Anna Kavan but also New Zealand of the 1940s.

Ian Hamilton papers

webpage, None

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