How wonderful is this? An independent literary publishing house in America has just republished two comic novels by one of Australia's finest writers — Elizabeth Jolley.
It is part of an ambitious program by Persea Books to revive interest in Jolley's work after most of her novels were unavailable in the USA at the time of her death in 2007. The New York-based company has already published The Vera Wright Trilogy, Foxybaby and The Sugar Mother — all to rave reviews — and now it plans to publish Mr Scobie's Riddle and Miss Peabody's Inheritance.
In a letter to reviewers, Jolley is described as "one of Australia's best-known writers" and a "master of black comedy".
It adds: "Her style is distinctive, her voice original. Her preoccupation with love triangles in every combination makes her fiction playful and sometimes macabre. Comparisons to Flannery O'Connor, Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe, by their range, prove that she is in a class by herself."
I read (the Penguin Modern Classics edition of) Mr Scobie's Riddle a couple of years ago and thought it a "wonderful black comedy in the tradition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". I've not read Miss Peabody's Inheritance but the blurb on the back of Persea Books' handsome edition describes it as a "poignant duet of art and life, in the tradition of Muriel Spark and Barbara Pym".
The books are currently available in the USA. British-based readers should be able to order them direct from the Book Depository website.