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New Zealand Writers

Vivienne Jepson

Cover of the Oxford Companion to NZ Literature

cover image of The House of Olaf Krull

JEPSEN, Vivienne

A boisterous, braggadocious, ranting, randy, maverick mélange of confessional fiction, roman à clef, literary allusion and savage satire, it won praise from reviewers who confessed to shell-shock.

Author entry from The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, edited by Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie (1998), pp. 268. Entry written by Roger Robinson [About the Companion entries]

JEPSEN, Vivienne (1950– ), won the 1992 Reed Fiction Award (for new writers) with The House of Olaf Krull (1994). This recounts the return of Olivia Krull in early middle age from a somnolent marriage in New York to visit family in New Zealand, but as reviewer Ronda Cooper commented, ‘what’s meant to be a nostalgic reconciliation turns into a kind of jihad’. Olivia rampages and ravishes her way through family, farm and then the even more peccant fields of Wellington and its university’s English department. A boisterous, braggadocious, ranting, randy, maverick mélange of confessional fiction, roman à clef, literary allusion and savage satire, it won praise from reviewers who confessed to shell-shock. David Eggleton called it ‘rambling, manic and aggressive’ but praised ‘its fine sense of social hierarchies’ and ‘fearless deconstruction of Wellington party-life’ and Cooper recognised that though ‘driven by the need to unload’ its ‘sheer emotional weight has its own momentum’.

Jepsen was born in Otaki, has lived in Rerewhakaaitu, Hamilton, Auckland, Christchurch, London, New York and Wellington and is enrolled as a doctoral student at Victoria University.

Updated information

Vivienne Jepsen's thesis for her Doctorate of Philosophy, titled, Patriarchy and Illegitimate Subtext: A Gender Difference in NZ Writing, was conferred in 1999.



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