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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, Māori, Non-fiction, Pacific, 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, Review

Object lessons, Nicholas Reid

The Thrill of Falling Witi Ihimaera Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781869799205   Recently, with the death of Margaret Mahy, New Zealand mourned the loss of one of its best-known writers for children. We can take comfort, however, from the fact that

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Posted in Literature, Review, Short stories, Young adults

Problems with facts, Jane Stafford

The Parihaka Woman  Witi Ihimaera Vintage, $38.99, ISBN 9781869797294   New Zealand’s first novel, Taranaki: A Tale of the War, was written by a British (possibly Irish) army officer, Henry Butler Stoney, who served in the conflict. With a speed

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Half a good book, John McCrystal

The Trowenna Sea Witi Ihimaera Penguin Books, $37.00, ISBN 9780143202455 First, let’s deal with the distractions. Unless you were living under a rock in the latter part of 2009, you will be aware that Witi Ihimaera found himself in a

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Prizes and short shrifts, Murray Bramwell

Prizes: Selected Short Stories Janet Frame  Vintage, $34.99, ISBN 9781869791131 His Best Stories  Witi Ihimaera Raupo, $ 30.00, ISBN 9780143010906 Essential New Zealand Short Stories  Owen Marshall (ed) Vintage, $40.00, ISBN 97818697791285 There is something unexpectedly but suitably upbeat about

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Posted in Literature, Review, Short stories

Revisionist urges, Anna Rogers

The Rope of Man Witi Ihimaera Reed, $34.99, ISBN 0790008947 It’s surely a disconcerting and disturbing notion: that a writer’s early books can be rewritten many years later to take account of changes in his life, or in the evolution

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

If it’s claggy, it must be Wellington, Kim Griggs

Auckland: The city in literature ed Witi Ihimaera Exisle Publishing, $34.95, ISBN 0908988362 Dunedin: The city in literature  ed Christine Johnston Exisle Publishing, $34.95, ISBN 0908988451 Christchurch: The city in literature ed Anna Rogers Exisle Publishing, $34.95, ISBN 0908988427 Wellington:

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Posted in Literature, Review

Lord of the wings, Roger Robinson

Sky Dancer Witi Ihimaera Penguin, $34.95, ISBN 0143018698 If Witi Ihimaera is a national treasure, he is an impishly unpredictable one. At an age when he could be securely serene, he persists with youthful glee in taking literary risks. With

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Lord Of The Wings, Witi Ihimaera

Lord Of The Wings  (extract from forthcoming novel )   One day Karuhiruhi, chieftain of the large black seashag iwi, decided to leave his cliff-faced pah and travel throughout his coastal kingdom. His wife, Queen Kara, had just given birth

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