Penguin NZ, $29.99 hb, 226 pp, 9780143573784
At the outbreak of World War II, the British novelist Anna Kavan began a journey around the world that brought her, ultimately, to New Zealand. Her two years there in a landscape that she describes as ‘splendid’ but also ‘sinister’ and ‘frightening’ inspired Kavan’s most famous novel. The surreal and post-apocalyptic Ice (1967) emerged from a mind that found itself adrift, while the world waged war, in the ‘menacing strangeness of an alien hemisphere’, as she writes in ‘New Zealand: An Answer to an Inquiry’ (Horizon, 1943). In that article, Kavan chronicles her time among people who ‘look mad and heroic because they have courage to go on living at all in the face of that alien terror and loveliness, nothing between them and the South Pole’.