THE TYPEWRITER'S TALE on BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime

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Michiel Heyns’s thought-provoking and slyly witty novel THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE, abridged by Sara Davies, will be read by Sian Thomas on BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, starting tonight, Monday 16 May . The novel has been published by Freight Books in the UK and will be published by St Martins Press in the US in 2017. Episodes will be available to listen to again shortly after broadcast.

Carefully researched and yet abundantly inventive, THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE brings to life a man – Henry James – who is the subject of literary interest worldwide. But unlike in other James-themed novels, Heyns does not make James the hero of the piece – the role of heroine is filled by the wonderful fictional character of his typist, Frieda Wroth. The novel won pre-publication praise – ‘delicious’, ‘breathtaking’, ‘admirable’ – from writers like Ronald Frame, Zoe Wicomb and Lyndall Gordon. Freight  published in the month of the centenary of Henry James’ death and reviews are glowing.

 ‘Anyone who loves Henry James will adore THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE … Frieda is smart, funny, modern and intuitive and with her story, Heyns has given us something playful as well as thought-provoking’ – Lesley McDowell, The Independent on Sunday

‘A love of Henry James’ work is certainly not necessary to enjoy this novel … in tone it is light-hearted and entertaining. Heyns not only has fun with James and his family, but with a series of guest stars like Hugh Walpole, and Edith Wharton, who sweeps through the novel like a force of nature at regular points. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say we can’t have too many novels about Henry James, I am certainly glad we now have this one too.’ – 1stReading’s Blog

‘THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE is excellent and admirable, written in Jamesian style, but with lashings of the humour often lacking in the great man’s work … Heyns is a beautiful writer and it’s a measure of his talent that he apes James’s circumlocutions without stumbling. His images are vivid and apt. … Frieda provides the novel’s heart and its soul, and she is a lovely creation.’ – Lee Randall, A History of My life in 100 Objects blog

THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE slyly probes questions of love and art, creativity, immortality and the nature of a life fully lived. Michiel Heyns convincingly recreates the society in the town of Rye around ‘the Master’, as seen through the cool gaze of his typist, Frieda. Admiring of the great author, she nevertheless feels marginalised and under-valued, a mere typewriter, amidst the stolid servants and chattering guests. But when the dashing Morton Fullerton comes to visit, Frieda finds herself at the centre of an intrigue every bit as engrossing as the novels she types every day, bringing her into conflict with the flamboyant Edith Wharton, and compromising her loyalty to her employer.  The urbane, long-winded Henry James, the suave, witty Morton Fullerton and the voracious, larger-than life Edith Wharton: caught in a triangle of which she only gradually comes to understand the nature, Frieda tries to obey the Master’s dictum: ‘Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.’ But living, she finds, exacts a price: it takes place at the expense of other lives.

Michiel Heyns is a prize-winning novelist, translator and critic, one of South Africa’s leading literary lights and recipient of several international fellowships.. He is also Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Stellenbosch University and author of EXPULSION AND THE NINETEENTH CENTURY NOVEL (OUP, 1994) as well as numerous articles, and radio adaptations of Henry James’ novels. All of his novels have been published in South Africa by Jonathan Ball and THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Africa Region and is also published in French by Philippe Rey. Freight will publish a further novel LOST GROUND in the UK in 2017

For more on Michiel’s novels, see his website.

More praise for THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE:

'...beams a brilliant light onto the world of Henry James, illuminating the language, manners and social mores of the early twentieth century. This exquisite account of the master and his amanuensis is a tour de force; her story, for all the confines of a typist's life in Rye, a triumph. Heyns is an important figure in South African letters; here he is profound and humorous. THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE is a breathtaking work and, above all, a pleasure to read.' Zoe Wicomb author of Playing in the Light and October

‘THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE is admirable for its Jamesian inwardness and delicacy. It’s a brilliant idea to explore the typewriter’s view of the great writer she serves and to imagine so plausibly how she is drawn into his world.’ Lyndall Gordon, author of Henry James: His Women and His Art

'What a great idea! The master-observer is observed by his stenographer. A delicious treat for Henry James aficionados, and also for those who may never have read a word. Sly, sympathetic, high-minded, involving, moving, funny. I loved it, and was very sorry to reach the last page. But Freida Wroth and Mr James and the other characters will live on in my mind.' Ronald Frame, author of The Lantern Bearers and Havisham



Next Sunday at 19:45 the first of three short stories from JELLYFISH by Janice Galloway will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Following the success of her 'anti-memoirs' THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME and ALL MADE UP, the novelist, poet and frequent collaborator with artists and musicians, returns to short fiction with JELLYFISH, published in June by Freight Books. The title story is an exquisite tale set between childhood and independence, and is going to be read on Sunday by the author herself.

Listen to the stories on iPlayer here.

In this sparkling and powerful new collection, Janice Galloway takes on David Lodge's assertion – ‘Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life's the other way round’ and scent-marks her multi-layered fiction with what she believes to be the greater truth. JELLYFISH contains razor-sharp tales of two of the most powerful human experiences from one of our most acclaimed authors. The collection has been longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize 2015.

Janice Galloway was born in Ayrshire in 1955. She is the author of three novels, two collections of short stories and, most recently, two memoirs. She has won and been shortlisted for numerous literary prizes, including the Whitbread First Novel and Scottish Book of the Year. Her radio work includes two series for BBC (LIFE AS A MAN and IMAGINED LIVES) and programmes on music and musicians. 

Praise for JELLYFISH:

‘Foreboding floats through the fourteen tales … Reminiscent of Sylvia Plath in its black humour and visceral imagery … These deft short stories show why publishers should have more faith in the form … Exquisite similes and witty metaphors rise up and sting the senses like the eponymous jellyfish. With this electrifying volume Galloway proves herself a truly powerful writer who deserves to be much better known.’ – The Independent

‘An exquisite short-story collection … Previously very much a city writer, here the natural world encroaches on Galloway’s work from the title onwards, both indifferent and essential.’ – The Guardian

'This is a short story collection to savour, by one of the foremost Scottish writers of her generation.' – Irish Times