Author(s): J.C. Sturm
The House of the Talking Cat is a selection of short stories, originally published in 1983 by the women’s publishing collective Spiral. It was shortlisted in the New Zealand Book Awards and reprinted in 1986 by Hodder & Stoughton.
Although written in 1966 and ready for publication there was no publisher. In 1969 Sturm became a solo parent and the pressures of earning a living left her little time for further writing for over 20 years. In 1982 ‘First Native and Pink Pig’ and ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem’ were featured in the anthology of Maori writing Into the World of Light (ed. Ihimaera and Long), but it took her first public reading—in 1980 with, among others, Patricia Grace and Keri Hulme—to get the entire collection published.
Reviewers, while commenting that stylistically the stories were of an earlier era, praised the collection, with Witi Ihimaera calling her a ‘pivotal presence in the Maori literary tradition’ and speculating on the course Maori literature might have taken had ‘J.C. Sturm and Cat achieved success and publication in their time, rather than twenty years later’ (NZ Listener, 17 Mar. 1984).
J. C. Sturm was a short story writer and poet. One of the first Maori women to obtain a university degree in 1949, Sturm’s short stories featured in select journals throughout the 1950s and 60s. By 1966 Sturm had a collection of stories ready for publication, but no publisher, and by 1969 she had become a solo parent, circumstances which meant her first collection wasn’t published until 1983. She went on to produce collections of poetry, and her writing featured in key journals and anthologies. One of New Zealand's first published Maori women writers, J. C. Sturm died at the age of 82 in late 2009.