Award-winning short story writer’s book beguiles and bites



Kathryn van Beek

Published by Mary Egan Publishing, 25 August 2020, RRP: $20.00

“Hectic, chatty, very modern New Zealand, very, very readable.– Steve Braunias (author of The Man Who Ate Lincoln Road) 
If PET were a box of chocolates, their contents would be dark, delectable, dangerous.  Their eclectic aftertaste would stay with you.

Highly acclaimed short story writer, Kathryn van Beek is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most intriguing contemporary voices.  The winner of the MiNDFOOD Short Story Competition 2019 and the Headland Short Story Prize 2015, her story ‘The Nor’Wester’ from PET, was highly commended for The Sargeson Prize. Van Beek is also a successful playwright.

PET explores the visceral wildness of humanity, revealing our flaws and quagmire of emotions.  In van Beek’s capable hands, animals and children are innocent bystanders, sometimes victims, caught up in the dysfunctional world of unruly adults. There is poignancy, tenderness and black humour throughout.

Van Beek casts her unflinching gaze on the adult ‘handlers’ who populate PET and in the 18 stories which comprise her collection, we meet men and women struggling, enraged, on the edge.  Caught up in complex webs of intimate, family and social interactions, their plights resonate and captivate – from the young woman with her emotional support animal to the homeless girl desperately struggling to survive, and the addict who dresses up dead possums.

Nine of the stories from van Beek’s collection have or will be, published in various media, including: The Sunday Star-Times, Takahē and Newsroom. Each story is accompanied by an original hand drawn pen and ink illustration by van Beek.

KATHRYN VAN BEEK grew up in Christchurch and has an MA Creative Writing from Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters.  She has lived and worked in Auckland, Wellington and the Wairarapa, and now lives in Dunedin where is studying for her doctorate.

Kathryn is the ‘momager’ of Aotearoa’s third most famous cat Bruce, who became an internet sensation in 2015 when Kathryn rescued him from an Auckland street at just one day old.  Her children’s book Bruce Finds a Home immortalised his story and became an instant bestseller.   The sequel to Bruce the Cat’s story, Bruce Goes Outside, is also published in August 2020.

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