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Connecting kindred tribes, David Eggleton

Black Marks on the White Page
Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti (eds)
Penguin Random House, $40.00,
ISBN 9780143770299

Billed as a guidebook to the contemporary literature of Oceania, Black Marks on the White Page is not quite that; it’s too eclectic, too much of a hotchpotch for a start, sweeping erratically back and forth across the Pacific to locate, we are told, “the best new and uncollected fiction” generated out of the rolling identity revolution of Pasifika peoples in the 21st century. You could make a very long list of “the best” that is not included. What this anthology is is a sampling: it contains 29 examples of “story-telling” by 25 writers, complemented or contextualised by images of nine artworks by nine artists.

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Posted in Art, Literature, Maori, Non-fiction, Pacific and Short stories

“We talked and we argued to keep ourselves alive”, Tina Makereti

For Someone I Love – A Collection of Writing Arapera Blank Anton Blank Ltd, $40.00, ISBN 9780473299187 For Someone I Love is aptly titled, for the immediate impression is of the immense devotion Arapera and Pius Blank had to each

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review and Short stories

Genesis of a Māori writer, Tina Makereti

Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood
Witi Ihimaera
Vintage, $40.00,
ISBN 9781869797263

It is sometimes useful, in reading a review, to have some sense of the reviewer’s positioning in relation to the material. After all, the New Zealand literary community is small, and it is not uncommon to read a review that says as much about the reviewer’s biases and assumptions as about the book in question.

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

The dangers of pre-existing narratives, Jane Stafford 

Where the Rekohu Bone Sings
Tina Makereti
Vintage, $38.00,
ISBN 9781775535188

Twentieth- and 21st-century New Zealand literature contains two utterly different narratives, each incorporating an almost diametrically opposed world view. On the one hand, there is the Pakeha narrative of radical bourgeois individualism which demonstrates the necessity of disassociating oneself from family and society, both seen as disabling and repressive. The past is rejected and the future self-fashioned. On the other hand, there is the indigenous narrative, where the past is configured as being one of collectivity and wholeness that has been lost. This past – or the values of this past – must be located and absorbed in order that the subject can themselves become whole. Frank Sargeson, Ronald Hugh Morrieson, Janet Frame, Fiona Kidman, Maurice Shadbolt and many other Pakeha writers inhabit the first narrative; the bone people, Once Were Warriors, Cousins and the Huia short story anthologies the second. New Zealand writing is split between leaving the repressive home and seeking the lost home, and the choice of which narrative to follow is predicated on the cultural identity of the writer.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

What am I doing here? Nicholas Reid

A Man Melting Craig Cliff Vintage, $29.99, ISBN 9781869791926   Everything We Hoped For Pip Adam Victoria University Press, $30.00, ISBN 9780864736253   Once upon a Time in Aotearoa Tina Makereti Huia, $30.00, ISBN 978186969166   He ran his right

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review and Short stories
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