In late 2018, I read a most remarkable novella – & I haven’t stopped banging on about it ever since, basically! Namely Jen Craig’s Panthers & the Museum of Fire, a book which originally appeared in 2015 (and was long-listed for the Stella Prize that year), but which I only came to very late (see below).
Thereafter, bringing this novel to a wider international audience became a particular passion project of mine – it so thoroughly deserved to be on the world stage. Hence, today I’m so thrilled to announce the sale of US & Canadian rights in the book to the L.A.-based indie Zerogram Press, an imprint of Green Integer, for publication in late 2020!
I’ve got a rollcall of people I’d like to thank: firstly Emmett Stinson, who got this book back on my radar through a “What I’m reading” blogpost on the Meanjin website, and is one of the most alert readers in Australia to literary innovation; the vision of the book’s original publisher, Bronwyn Mehan at Spineless Wonders; & the reviews penned by the likes of Paul Fulcher, Steve Mitchelmore, Anthony Brown, Ed Wright and @Flowerville, which confirmed to me just what a special book it is.
This is what Jen Craig had to say about the rights sale:
“I am so, so delighted that my novella, Panthers and the Museum of Fire, is being given a North American outing by Zerogram Press. On their home page, an epigraph from Walter Benjamin reads: “In every era the attempt must be made to wrest the tradition away from a conformism that threatens to overwhelm it,” and when I saw that, I was heartened and emboldened. I hadn’t realised there might be publishers out there like this, and especially in this era, when our challenge – even and especially with literature – is to be able to read, to think and to write in the face of those that might say they have worked out for us, in advance, just how we should go about doing it.
I am also moved that my novella, which is intimately connected to the antipodean clefts and asphalted roads that it is set along, has nonetheless managed to kindle the imagination of a publisher on the other side of the massive ocean that lies between us”.
And this from Jim Gauer, Zerogram’s publisher:
“Zerogram Press is particularly honoured to add Jen Craig to our list, and to bring her marvellous writing to North American readers. She appears to write effortlessly, as though all of her novella has been breathed out at once, without a sentence or a phrase or a word out of place. And yet her work is alive with a fierce sense of urgency, without a word or a phrase that is ever predictable, and with a continuous sense of those inevitable surprises that are the hallmark of all living art. As Basil Bunting might have put it: it is time to consider how Jen Craig’s Panthers condenses so much music into so few bars, with never a crabbed turn or a congested cadence, never a boast or a see-here. On behalf of Zerogram Press, we welcome Jen Craig to the future of literature”.