Barbara Andersons first book, I think we should go into the jungle (1989), was one the outstanding events of New Zealand literary history. A first book by a writer over sixty, and a first book of short stories, it was nevertheless an immediate bestseller, reprinting twice and going on to successful publication in the UK and Commonwealth. Since then she has been celebrated primarily for her eight bestselling novels, including Portrait of the Artists Wife, which won the 1993 Wattie Award.
Barbara Andersons Collected Stories contains the stories from I think we should go into the jungle and her second collection, The Peacocks (1999), as well as recent stories never before published in book form in New Zealand.
With settings ranging from mid 20th century Hawkes Bay farms to 21st century hairdressing salons, and Barbara Andersons characteristic mix of sharp wit and warm characterization, this hugely enjoyable book consolidates her status as one of the leading short story writers of our time.
A NZ #1 bestseller, Collected Stories has been reprinted to meet demand and it has received unanimous critical acclaim.
Praise for Collected Stories
BOOK OF THE WEEK
This is a generous feast of good writing and, though only the final three are previously uncollected, fans of Anderson's storiesfans of excellent short stories in generalshould hurry to pick it up. Some of the stories collected in Glorious Things (UK) didn't appear in either of the VUP collections and it's instructive to see all Anderson's stories in the same place; this is also a handsome book which looks as inviting as it is rewarding to read. Anderson, the book jacket tells us, is currently writing her autobiography. I hope she's writing new short stories too, because she has serious claims to greatness. In this classy collection, Anderson shows us exactly how it's done, and leaves us greedy for more.
Paula Morris DOMINION POST
Barbara Anderson's strength is her short stories, I just adore these. It's a real treat of a book. Mary McCallum
This is a gem. Linda Clark
NATIONAL RADIO SPEAKING VOLUMES
...Anderson assuages our curiosity with her precise rendering of detail, her emotional accuracy, her knowledge of life. Each of these short fictions is a consummate performance. Read then slowly, and marvel.
Sheridan Keith SUNDAY STAR TIMES
There are 31 short stories in this nicely hefty book, (with yet another beautiful, evocative cover by Sarah Maxey) and I read the lot straight through. Not in one sitting of course, but there was no dalliance with a novel on the side. I couldnt, didnt want to, get Barbaras dry, wry voice out of my head.
Her style is highly addictive. And her short stories are in my opinion as good as la Mansfield which, as an adoring fan, I do not say lightly. In fact, Barbara sometimes makes Katherines prose and characterisation seem almost wordy in comparison with her own extremely pared-down sentences. Im not saying literary minimalism is always a good thing (Im also a fan of the Nabokovian half-page, 30-adjective paragraph) but needs must in this genre, and Barbara makes it a thing of beauty.
Kathy Hunter LEASALON
The collection shows that over the years Barbara Anderson has lost none of her powers. Her sharp eye and sharp pen remind me a little of John Updike, unerring chronicler of the American middle class.
NORTH & SOUTH
Named one of the Listener's Best Books 2006
This is a rotten book to review. I kept wanting to read the stories rather than make notes on them. That's typical Anderson as well; she always makes your eyes do the walking. A damn solid and satisfying collection, and I gather that she's currently working on her autobiography. Bring it on, Barbie baby.
David Hill LISTENER
...great summer reading in this definitive collection.
Steve Scott WAIKATO TIMES
Her extraordinary eye for giveaway detail and nuance has been sharpened over decades of observation, as has her strikingly accurate dialogue with its unintentionally revealing words. She is sharp, but compassionate and understanding of human foibles, and her humour is unerring.
Heather Marsh WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE
Praise for I think we should go into the jungle
. . . this must be one of the sharpest collections in English since Carver's Cathedral in 1984. Anderson has an important gift: she notices everything. She's been compared to Flaubert, and the comparison does not seem senselessly extravagant. She is able to convey how people get on with each other in the briefest of dialogues. . .
Michael Hulse GUARDIAN WEEKLY
Her work has the assurance , the verbal dexterity, and the solidity of specification that marks the professional.
Paul Day WAIKATO TIMES
Never portentous, never trivial, marvelously comic but with grey skeins of pathos, this is surely among the most powerful collections of stories produced in New Zealand. Its unerring economy of effects suggests at times the quality of a Flaubert, a Patrick White,a Grace Paley. To have achieved such brilliance in a first book is remarkable.
Ian Reid LISTENER
Praise for The Peacocks
Here Barbara Anderson shows how it's done. And people who want to read short stories for pleasure, to be charmed and intrigued, need look no further than this book.
Joan Curry PRESS
Economical, probing, and original, Anderson is an immaculate stylist.
Joy Mackenzie SUNDAY STAR TIMES
Barbara Anderson is a wonderful short story writer.
. . . you're in for a treat.
Elizabeth Crayford DOMINION
Barbara Anderson is a born writer. Nick Hornby