Indie Publishing Roundup Summer 2017

The quarterly Pantograph roundup of what’s happening in Aotearoa New Zealand indie publishing.

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Indie: A small independent; unaffiliated; an obscure form of art which one learns about from someone slightly hipper than oneself. Here’s the quarterly Pantograph roundup of what’s happening with those hipsters in Aotearoa New Zealand indie publishing.

Makaro Press

In February 2017 Makaro Press will publish A Tale of Love by novelist and essayist Linda Lê. Lê was born in Vietnam, but lives in France and writes exclusively in French. Her work has won the Benjamin Fondane, Bourse Cioran, and Prix Renaudot prizes, and has been shortlisted for the 2012 Prix Goncourt. Lê’s story follows psychiatric patients Ylane and Ivan who meet for the first time in the hospital’s library. In the shelter of the clinic they find happiness, but release into the outside world is frightening and their love becomes a struggle as reality intrudes. A Tale of Love is a novel as much about the power of reading and writing to transform as it is about the transformation of love.

Lê’s many-faceted tale is brought into English for the first time by New Zealand translator and writer Sian Robyns. Robyns is a PhD candidate in Literary Translation Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, and her translation of Fariba Hachtroudi’s 2009 novel Le douzième imam est une femme? was published in Canada in 2011. When asked about translating the novel Robyns says:

'A stack of novels, plucked at random from the library shelves; a pile of rejects, a handful of maybes and a slim paperback with an intriguing title, its cover illustrated with a ghostly face and a single yellow iris. That, in summary, is how I came to spend a year translating and writing about Conte de l’amour bifrons. If I’d known then that its author, Linda Lê, is regarded as one of France’s most interesting and challenging writers, that the same year would see her nominated for that country’s top literary award, the Prix de Goncourt, I might well have been too intimidated to continue. Ignorance, though, grants a certain freedom. I allowed myself to be drawn into Ylane and Ivan’s liminal, literary universe.

The book got under my skin. I was enthralled by its poetry and bleak humour, its self-consciousness and complex web of intertextual references. It’s a love story set in a Paris of the mind, a meta-fiction and allegory about reading and writing, about our relationship with the literature and the worlds and selves we construct through it.

Translating the novel was a voyage of discovery, a journey into the heart of the text, and an encounter with a fierce and passionate intelligence.   It began as an intellectual and scholarly pursuit, a problem to be solved like a cryptic crossword or a game of Scrabble. At some point there was a shift in which the problem-solving became a creative process: I’d found the meaning and was treading a path parallel to the author’s, to deliver it to a new audience.’

Mimicry 2

On Thursday 26 January Mimicry 2 was launched at MEANWHILE gallery in Wellington. The editors promise that ‘issue two of New Zealand’s chillest new journal showcases comedy, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, music, art, photography and design by young New Zealand creatives.’

Mimicry 2 features new work by Chris Tse, Cherie Lacey and Claudia Jardine, as well as new talent ‘from New Zealand’s grotty literary and artistic underworlds.’ Mimicry 1 sold out quickly, so be warned!

Cloud Ink Press

A Striking Truth by Helen McNeil looks at the impact of the 1986 Tasman Pulp and Paper strike on the small Bay of Plenty town of Kawerau from the perspective of five fictionalised characters. McNeil, a former psychologist originally from Kawerau, witnessed firsthand the devastating effect the strikes had on the community. The Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill was opened in the early 1950s by Sir James Fletcher and used to be the major employer in the region. ‘Tasman used to be like a big family,’ says McNeil. ‘The mill was owned by the Fletcher family and the son, Hugh Fletcher, went to Stanford and came back globalised. He completely changed the culture of the factory which had been started by his father. At the same time this was the days of Rogernomics so politically it was an incredible time in history.’

A Striking Truth was published in late 2016, and is the first book by the newly established Cloud Ink Press, a publishing collective of AUT Master of Creative Writing alumni.

Escalator Press

Everything is here is Rob Hack’s first collection of poems and the first book of poetry from Escalator Press, an imprint set up by the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme. Hack’s collection explores his relationship to his Rarotongan heritage as well as his connection to Niue and New Zealand, and the places where his family lived when he was growing up. Publisher Mary-Jane Duffy comments, ‘Rob’s poems evoke island life through rich imagery and familiarity – and that includes New Zealand. They reinforce our quintessential Pacific-ness and reflect Escalator Press’ aim to showcase the diversity of voices in New Zealand literature.’

Hack is a graduate of the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme and completed his Masters at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University. In his own words, Hack’s describes his poems as being ‘about places, people and events that matter in my life. Initially, I wanted to uncover and record my Rarotongan mother’s early life but I later progressed into writing about the Cook Islands, our Niue Island years, my forays into Australia, and poets I admire as well as a lot of other stuff.’

Starling - Issue 3

Starling is an online literary journal showcasing new poetry and prose from young New Zealand writers. Issue three has 'amazing new work by 18 young NZ writers ranging in age from thirteen to twenty-four' on the themes of 'love, womanhood, illness & loss, mothers & daughters, art, alligators & Katy Perry: it's all here!' Every issue leads with work by an established New Zealand writer, with Starling 3 featuring new fiction from Pip Adam. The issue also includes cover art (above) and an interview with Lana Lopesi - our own Visual Arts Editor!

Check out our Spring 2016 indie round-up here.