Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Barbara Trapido Appreciation Week

I should start this by saying that I am lame. Barbara Trapido Appreciation Week (not its official title) was actually last week, and I'm only getting around to reporting it now. 

I've written before about my great admiration for Trapido, a South African-born British novelist.  I wrote about her a few years ago in my post about re-reading, and I mentioned her as well in my post last fall about Laurie Colwin.  It turns out that I also write about her in a bigger way every 10 years (to the month!).  In 2003, I wrote about her for the very nice but short-lived Readerville Journal, for a column called "Ode to a Lesser Known Genius."  Trapido's agent was very helpful, and once the piece was out, I got a thank you message from Barbara Trapido herself, which thrilled me. 

In the decade since, Trapido has published 2 novels, the autobiographical Frankie and Stankie about Trapido's childhood in South Africa (which actually was coming out right when my article was published) and the 2010 Sex and Stravinsky, full of mismatched lovers, teenage daughters, a truly horrifying mother and the mysterious Jack.  (You'll have to read it to know what I mean.)   I have continued to remain an enormous fan and to wonder why she is so little known in the U.S.

So when Bloom--a cool new site focusing on writers who first published after the age of 40--asked if I was interested in writing a piece, I knew exactly who I wanted to write about.  (Trapido's first novel, Brother of the More Famous Jack, was published in 1982, when she was 41.)  

It was a lovely project.  I spent part of January re-reading four of Trapido's seven novels, the four that share a common set of characters.  It is a testament to her that I'd originally only intended to re-read two of them, but then I just couldn't help myself and kept (re-)reading.  (I'd read each of the four books at least twice previously, though not in the last ten years.)  It was a joy and a pleasure to be back in Trapido's world for that time.  

And last week, I also spent a delightful several hours on the phone with Barbara Trapido herself, just back from a literary festival in Mauritius (and truly a champ to agree to talk to me within hours of her return home to Oxford).  Our conversation was long and rambly and thoroughly enjoyable, and I hope we'll have the opportunity to talk again.  It's not often you get to gab so nicely with one of your favorite writers.  

So, even though Trapido was last week's feature author, and Bloom has moved on, I encourage you to go over to check the site out and participate in Barbara Trapido Appreciation Week--because it's never too late for appreciation!

The Joyful Mystery of Barbara Trapido

Interview with Barbara Trapido

(For a cool photo of Trapido a few years ago, scroll down a bit in this flickr set--she looks to me here the way her character Katherine Brown would look.  (Katherine was the narrator of Brother of the More Famous Jack and reappeared 20 years (and 4 books) later in The Travelling Hornplayer.  If we are lucky, we'll see her once more.  (But you'll have to read the interview to find out more!))


Heidi said...

I wanted to send you a very belated thank you for recommending Barbara Trapido. Sex & Stravinsky has been on order at my library for absolutely forever, but now it has arrived and now I've devoured it and now I want more.

Sue Dickman said...

I'm so glad you like her! I've been a Trapido evangelist as long as I've been reading her. Go back to her earlier novels--you won't be disappointed!