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Whose history? Simon Hay

The Expatriate Myth: New Zealand Writers and the Colonial World 
Helen Bones
Otago University Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9781988531175

The Expatriates 
Martin Edmond
Bridget Williams Books, $50.00,
ISBN 9781988533179

Helen Bones aims to dismantle the “myth” that New Zealand writers, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, had to leave New Zealand to pursue careers as writers. She argues that this myth is wrong in at least two directions: first, that many New Zealand writers stayed and wrote and published, in New Zealand – that New Zealand was at this time not the cultural wasteland that it was made out to be by the generation of scholars she calls the “cultural nationalists”; and, second, that writers who did leave had neither an easier nor a harder time of it than those who stayed. Her book is a quantitative study, insofar as it can be: not interested in the “content” of books, but in “comprehensive data collection”, “literary empirical techniques”, and “a dataset of publications”. Her goal is to “quantify the significance of literary expatriatism”.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

Of one kind and another, Simon Hay

The Pounamu Prophecy
Cindy Williams
Rhiza Press, $28.50 ISBN 9781925139457

The Seer’s Wolf
Barbara Petrie
Bridgidada Press, $33.00 ISBN 9780473318154

Waitapu
Helen Margaret Waaka
Escalator Press, $30.00 ISBN 9780994118615

Cindy Williams’s romance The Pounamu Prophecy is the story of Helene and James finding their way back to each other after the spark has gone from their marriage.

As a romance, it’s not a book which asks readers to do much work. The characters are largely stereotypes, events require minimal interpretation, and life has clearly visible meaning. (Plot spoilers follow.) The book’s gender politics are likewise a product of the genre: it is Helene rather than James who needs to learn and change, and what she needs to learn is not to put her career ahead of his.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review
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