THE TYPEWRITER'S TALE by Michiel Heyns, published today by St. Martin's Press

THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE by Michiel Heyns is published today in the USA by St. Martin’s Press. When the novel was first released in South Africa, it was shortlisted for both the Commonwealth Prize for African Writers, and the Herman Charles Bosman Prize, SA. It was also featured as a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime in 2016.

The book has already been receiving pre-publication praise in the USA:

‘Literary history blends masterfully with a plot of intrigue in this slim and delightful novel' - Kirkus Reviews

‘An engaging whodunit atmosphere, in which faithfully re-created real-life individuals mix well with authentically drawn fictitious ones' Starred Booklist

 

THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE brings to life acclaimed writer Henry James, but the author is not the hero of the piece — the heroine is the wonderful fictional character of his typist, Frieda Wroth.

We discover society in the town of Rye around ‘the Master’, as seen through the cool gaze of his typist, Frieda — a woman stirred by the suffragette movement and her own fledgling passions and ambitions. Admiring of the great author, she nevertheless feels under-valued, as his mere ‘typewriter’. 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.

Caught in a complex triangle with urbane, long-winded James, suave, witty Morton Fullerton and voracious, larger-than life Edith Wharton, 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…

 

More praise for THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE:

 ‘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

‘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 Frieda Wroth and Mr James and the other characters will live on in my mind.’ – Ronald Frame

‘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

‘A hugely refreshing South African novel … Heyns has a knack for building clear, expressive prose like a watchmaker fitting together the workings of a timepiece.’ – Gareth Pike, Sunday Times

 

Michiel Heyns is a Professor Emeritus of English Literature, prize-winning novelist, translator, and critic. All of his novels have been published in South Africa by Jonathan Ball, who publish I AM PANDARUS in 2017. Freight will publish LOST GROUND in the UK in 2018.

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

TYPEWRITER'S TALE, THE Freight final.jpg

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

 

THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE by Michiel Heyns praised by UK reviewers

Michiel Heyns’ thought-provoking and slyly witty novel THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE has been published by Freight Books in the UK and is winning over reviewers here, with a US deal to be confirmed soon.

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 have published in the month of the centenary of Henry James’ death and early 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. 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

FOUR BLAKE FRIEDMANN AUTHORS LONGLISTED FOR SUNDAY TIMES PRIZE IN SOUTH AFRICA

We are delighted to announce that four of our authors have been longlisted for the Sunday Times Prize in South Africa.

WEEPING WATERS by Karin Brynard (translated by Isobel Dixon and Maya Fowler), A SPORTFUL MALICE by Michiel Heyns and RACHEL’S BLUE by Zakes Mda are on the longlist for The Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, formerly the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. Now in its fifteenth year, this prize is awarded annually to a novel that is of ‘rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction.’

In the non-fiction category, DIVIDED LIVES by Lyndall Gordon has been longlisted for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Non-Fiction Prize. This award, now in its twenty-sixth year, is awarded to non-fiction with ‘compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity.’

Previous Blake Friedmann winners of these prizes include Ivan Vladislavić (who has won both the fiction and non-fiction prizes for PORTRAIT WITH KEYS and THE RESTLESS SUPERMARKET), Marlene van Niekerk for AGAAT (translated by Michiel Heyns), Zakes Mda (HEART OF REDNESS) and Hugh Lewin for STONES AGAINST THE MIRROR.

The shortlists are usually announced at the Franschhoek Literary Festival. For more information on both prizes, check out:

A SPORTFUL MALICE by Michiel Heyns launch at The Book Lounge

The Book Lounge in Cape Town will be hosting the launch for A SPORTFUL MALICE, Michiel Heyn’s latest novel at 6 pm on June 4. Michiel will be in conversation with the Book Lounge's Mervyn Sloman.

A SPORTFUL MALICE is a witty and surprising story of vanity and artistry, Caravaggio and social media, and love and revenge under the Tuscan sun. It’s published in South Africa by Jonathan Ball, who have published all of Michiel’s novels.

There are some strange characters following Michael on his research trip around Tuscany. An old man, who cuts in front of him in the airport queue, and an elegant elderly woman who sat near him on the plane both keep appearing in unexpected places around Florence. But worst of all Cedric, the belligerent London bouncer with no taste for high culture, deliberately checks into the same hotel and insists on crashing at the countryside villa he has rented. Things take a turn for the stranger when Michael arrives at his villa and finds that that the old man from the airport is in fact its owner, and the mysterious woman is his artist partner. And there is a painting of a man uncannily like himself, though they insist it was painted many years ago. Unnerved by this series of coincidences, Michael begins to fear for his life. What’s really going on in this foreign country, and who can he really trust?

Michiel Heyns has received wide acclaim, with his novel LOST GROUND winning the Sunday Times Fiction Award (2012) as well as the Herman Charles Bosman Prize (2012.) He was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for African Writers for THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE (2006), and for the Booksellers’ Choice Award for THE RELUCTANT PASSENGER (2003) and THE CHILDREN’S DAY (2002). THE CHILDREN’S DAY also was No. 2 on French chain FNAC’s list of 30 best books of 2010 and several of his novels including LOST GROUND and THE TYPEWRITER’S TALE have been published by Editions Philippe Rey in France. He has won the Sol Plaatje Prize and the South African Translators’ Institute Prize for his translation of AGAAT by Marlene Niekerk, and his translation of Eben Venter’s WOLF, WOLF is currently shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award 2014.

Further events for A SPORTFUL MALICE include:

Sunday 8 June – Book Launch at the V&A Waterfront, in conversation with Gorry Bowes Taylor and Wordsworth Books

Tuesday 10 June – Book launch at Kalk Bay Books

Friday 13 June, 3 pm – In conversation with author of The Spiral House, Claire Robertson

Saturday 14 June, 2 pm – In conversation with Andrew Brown discussing fun and fiction.

Praise for Michiel Heyns:

'LOST GROUND is among the finest books to have been published in the last few years. Well-written, engaging and almost perfectly paced.' -- M Blackman, Sunday Independent

 ‘Michiel Heyns is part magician, part juggler and fine linguist.’Jane Rosenthal, Mail & Guardian

Visit Michiel Heyns’ website.