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In the Memorial Room

A Novel

List Price: $15.95

December 16, 2014 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.5, 208 Pages  | ISBN 9781619024465
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“This short, funny and often beautifully written novel…provides an excellent occasion for remembering the weird wisdom and genuine talent of Janet Frame." —New York Times Book Review

Harry Gill, a moderately successful writer of historical fiction, has been awarded the annual Watercress-Armstrong Fellowship—a ‘living memorial’ to the poet, Margaret Rose Hurndell. He arrives in the small French village of Menton, where Hurndell once lived and worked, to write. But the Memorial Room is not suitable—it has no electricity or water. Hurndell never wrote here, though it is expected of Harry.

Janet Frame’s previously unpublished novel draws on her own experiences in Menton, France as a Katherine Mansfield Fellow. It is a wonderful social satire, a send-up of the cult of the dead author, and—in the best tradition of Frame—a fascinating exploration of the complexity and the beauty of language.

JANET FRAME is one of New Zealand’s greatest writers. Born in Dunedin in 1924, she published twenty-one books in her lifetime and several posthumously. Her autobiographical work An Angel at My Table was made into a television series by Jane Campion in 1990. Janet Frame died in 2004. For more information, visit


“Written in the 1970s, this short, funny novel serves as a warning to those who cherish the work of dead writers.” —New York Times

“This short, funny and often beautifully written novel…provides an excellent occasion for remembering the weird wisdom and genuine talent of Janet Frame… In the Memorial Room is filled with terrifyingly beautiful reflections on how writing books (and even reading them) can feel like digging your own grave.” —New York Times Book Review

“Where Frame particularly excels is in her character descriptions… It speaks to her bold and courageous nature that Frame would choose to create such an unsympathetic main character… At times hilarious and in others, heartbreaking, In The Memorial Room offers a new and revelatory insight into the mind and heart of the wonderful Janet Frame.” —Bustle

“[T]he novel is a searing comedy of manners that dissects the affectations of the self-proclaimed literati with a deft hand and a sharp tongue… [T]he novel is also a fearless meditation on some of life’s thornier philosophical problems, and the questions that it raises… [T]he very precision and brilliance of Frame’s language, and her facility in documenting the idiosyncrasies of the human psyche, inevitably draw our attention back to the woman behind the curtain, demanding acknowledgment of a stunning literary accomplishment. As a posthumous capstone to Frame’s body of work, then, In the Memorial Room is indeed fitting–itself a memorial to an enigmatic and inimitable writer whose legacy needs no embellishment.” —KGB Bar & Lit Journal

“The story is also a beautifully crafted artistic and philosophical creation that explores the nature of communication and exposes Frame’s love of language… This is a terrific introduction to an original writer who deserves her own serious league of fans. Recommended for all fiction collections.” —Library Journal

“A strange, resonant, Nabokov-ian novel… Frame’s sentences are marvels, winding like narrow alleys through hill towns: They open spectacular vistas. Brilliant.” —Kirkus Starred Review

“In her signature eclectic style, Frame has crafted both a canny commentary on literary fame and hero worship and a heartfelt meditation on what it means to be a writer.”—Publishers Weekly

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