Anna Kavan

A special evening to celebrate the Life and work of Anna Kavan took place on the 3rd of July, 2007.
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Peter Owen Publishers are proud to announce the publication of a previously unpublished novel.Set in an unspecified but eerily familiar time and landscape, Guilty is narrated by Mark. He begins the novel as a young boy whose father has just returned from war. In spite of being garlanded as a hero, Mark's father declares himself a pacifist and is immediately reviled in a country still suffering from the divisions of war. When his father is forced into exile Mark meets Mr Spector, a shady figure who from then on is a dominant force in Mark's life, seeing him through his schooling, employment and even finding him accommodation. When Mark tries to break off with Mr Spector in order to pursue an engagement with the beautiful but docile Carla his life begins to unravel. Thwarted at every turn by a Kafkaesque bureaucracy he begins to fall prey to the machinations and insecurities of his guilt-ridden mind.

Drawing on many of Kavan's familiar themes, Guilty will be welcomed by those who already know Kavan's work and a revelation to those who don't.

Thrillingly unclassifiable' – The Guardian

'A week after finishing it, I’m still haunted. Kavan’s art is breathtaking – why is there no South Bank Show on this genius drug-fiend?' – Duncan Fallowell, Financial Times

ANNA KAVAN, née Helen Woods, in 1901; spent her childhood in Europe, the USA and England. Twice married and divorced, she began writing while living with her first husband in Burma and was published under the name of Helen Ferguson. In the wake of the collapse of her second marriage, she suffered the first of many nervous breakdowns and was confined to a clinic in Switzerland; she emerged from her incarceration with a new name — Anna Kavan, the protagonist of her 1930 novel Let Me Alone — an outwardly different persona and a new literary style. Her First novel in this guise was Asylum Piece, and it achieved for her a certain recognition. She was a long-term heroin addict and suffered periodic bouts of mental illness, and these facets of her life feature prominently in her novels and stories. She died in 1968 of heart failure soon after the publication of her most celebrated work, the novel Ice.