The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965
Writing in the New Zealand Listener in December 1960, M. H. Holcroft commented on the increased number of New Zealand books which had come up for review during the year. Thirty had been noted in the previous month alone. In 1959, in a comparable period, there were twelve, in 1958, fourteen.
This is a sign of the times. New Zealand writing, New Zealand publishing, have taken an upward turn. With literary fund support for some new work and for some reprints of our "classics", interest in our own literature is rising steadily. Equally important are the greater opportunities open to novelists who wish to publish overseas. Some break first into the English or American market—as did Sylvia Ashton-Warner with Spinster; some arrange publication simultaneously here and in England under a new type of partnership now developing. Some appear first in New Zealand, and may make enough stir to attract a later overseas offer. This is what happened to Owls Do Cry, which achieved publication in America, France and Germany.
The quality of the items in this rising tide of production varies, naturally enough, nor can any final assessment be made of books so new and so near to us in time. Posterity will sort them out; meanwhile we can read them, and argue.