A True Alternative History of 2020: Part Two

This post is Part Two of our True Alternative History of 2020 series. To read Part One in English, click here. To read Part One in Te Reo, click here.

The past twelve months have seen some of the most significant social, political, medical and environmental changes in a generation. Some of these changes have been traumatic; some have been important; some have been pretty scary.

However, the topics in this blog are a bit different. A True Alternative History of 2020 draws attention to the lesser known happenings of the past year–the forgotten or overlooked events that disappeared from view. From alien hunters to YouTube stars (and some dinosaurs, of course!), there’s something for everyone. Enjoy!


JULY

If you want to be a professional alien hunter when you grow up, you could do a lot worse than working in NASA’s astrobiology unit–especially since they’ve just set off to Mars to look for signs of ancient life! The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will reach the red planet in February 2021.

The case for Mars : the plan to settle the red planet and why we must / Zubrin, Robert
The Case for Mars explains step-by-step how we can use present-day technology to send humans to Mars. The Case for Mars is not a vision for the far future. It explains step-by-step how we can use present-day technology to send humans to Mars within ten years; actually produce fuel and oxygen on the planet’s surface; how we can build bases and settlements; and how we can one day “terraform” Mars and pave the way for sustainable life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


AUGUST

The Isle of Wight used to be known as a popular holiday hotspot, but now it’s known for something even better–the dinosaur Vectaerovenator inopinatus! (The name means “unexpected air-filled hunter”!)

Dinosaurs : a field guide / Paul, Gregory S
“This lavishly-illustrated volume is the first authoritative dinosaur book in the style of a field guide. It covers the true dinosaurs – the Tetrapoda – the great Mesozoic animals which gave rise to today’s living dinosaurs, the birds. Incorporating the new discoveries and research that are radically transforming what we know about dinosaurs, this book is distinguished both by its scientific accuracy and the quality and quantity of its illustrations.” (Catalogue)


SEPTEMBER

Not to be upstaged by the Isle of Wight, just a month later Mexico City uncovered the skeletons of 200 mammoths while excavating a site for an airport. (Beating the old mammoth skeleton record by 139!)

How to clone a mammoth : the science of de-extinction / Shapiro, Beth Alison
“Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. Beth Shapiro walks readers through the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen, Shapiro vividly explores the extraordinary science that is being used–today–to resurrect the past.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


OCTOBER

In October a structure taller than the Empire State Building was discovered near the Great Barrier Reef! The mysterious reef tower was stumbled upon by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, whose previous finds have included giant living underwater spirals and many, many new species!

Blowfish’s oceanopedia : 291 extraordinary things you didn’t know about the sea / Hird, Tom
“The seas of our planet cover more than 70 per cent of the Earth, yet we know less about the ocean depths than the surface of the moon. Join marine biologist and fish-fanatic Tom “the Blowfish” Hird as he lifts the lid on a treasure chest of fascinating facts, to reveal just what we do know about what lurks beneath the waves.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)


NOVEMBER

As you no doubt know, November 2020 saw some truly world-changing events take place. But among them all, one stands out: of course we’re talking about “Baby Shark” becoming the most popular video on YouTube, with over 7.6 billion views! For the mysterious origins of the song, check out this Slate podcast.

Social media / Macpherson, Mary
“Is our identity more of a composite than we realise? We often think of ourselves as formed from our core values or our DNA, but in Social Media, Mary Macpherson explores identity as a creation of the interactions we have with others: friends, family and the wider world, and the evolving role technology now plays in this. A playful and provocative collection that drills into our social and media selves using elements from short stories and film scripts.” (Catalogue)


DECEMBER

Somewhat surprisingly, on 31 December, just after 11:59pm, the year 2020 came to an end. Just like that! And so 2021 is upon us, and who knows what it has in store? More mammoth carcasses? Aliens? All of the above?! We will find out…

The future Earth : a radical vision for what’s possible in the age of warming / Holthaus, Eric
“The first hopeful book about climate change, The Future Earth shows readers how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades. The basics of climate science are easy. We know it is entirely human-caused. Which means its solutions will be similarly human-led. In The Future Earth, leading climate change advocate and weather-related journalist Eric Holthaus offers a radical vision of our future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Inspire Newtown Library’s new mural

Join artists Liana Leiataua and Ruth Robertson-Taylor at one of two workshops to create your own saipo (tapa) which will inspire a new mural for the community. The new mural will replace the eye-catching artwork which was originally installed to welcome people into the Newtown Library and Smart Newtown in 1991.

The workshops are suitable for people of all ages – so bring down the whanau or a group of friends. The workshops will be held in Newtown Library at 13 Constable street on 10:30am-noon, Wednesday 27 January or 2-3:30pm, Saturday 30 January.

All you need to bring is an one item from the Newtown environment (such as a leaf or flower) and one personal item!

If you are unable to make a workshop, create your own creative canvas! These will be on display at the Newtown Library throughout February 2021. Plus your creative artwork will go into a draw to win prizes from local businesses Newtown New World and Peoples Coffee who are supporting this community event.

How to enter

Entries need to be submitted by Monday 1 February 2021.

For more information email arts@wcc.govt.nz

Queens of the Abyss: Lost Stories from the Women of the Weird – new Sci-Fi and Fantasy

The task of the right eye is to peer into the telescope, while the left eye peers into the microscope.” ― Leonora Carrington (Down Below)

One of our new and recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles is Queens of the Abyss: Lost Stories from the Women of the Weird. There is a mistaken perception that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, weird and wonderful fiction, was the exclusive domain of male writers but, as this fabulous new anthology shows, this view is far from the truth.

The fundamental contributions made by women authors to the birth of this genre is celebrated in this anthology from overlooked pulp magazine contributors to more established authors such as Frances Hodgson Burnett, Marie Corelli, Margaret St Clair and Leonora Carrington. Many of these tales have never been reprinted since their first publication so why not delve into the abyssal depths of surreal darkness in this entertaining and important work? There’s lots of other wonderful new Science Fiction and Fantasy titles recently acquired by us, this short list is only our picks. Enjoy!

Queens of the abyss : lost stories from the women of the weird
” Contents include  A revelation by Mary E. Braddon,  The sculptor’s angel by Marie Corelli, From the dead by Edith Nesbit, The Christmas in the fog by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The haunted flat by  Marie Belloc Lowndes, A modern circle by Alicia Ramsey, The nature of the evidence by May Sinclair,   The Bishop of hell by Marjorie Bowen,  The antimacassar by Greye La Spina, White lady by Sophie Wenzel Ellis,  The laughing thing by  G.G. Pendarves ,  Candlelight by Lady Eleanor Smith,  The wonderful tune by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, Island of the hands by Margaret St Clare, The unwanted by Mary Elizabeth Counselman and The seventh horse by the exceptional genius Leonora Carrington.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tomorrow The World / Joseph, M. K.
“A dying Hitler dictates his memoirs to a personal aide whilst his top commanders plot against each other to see who will become the next Fuhrer. Meanwhile a small resistance group from England tries to smuggle a package across Europe that will help to smash the fascist rule, but are they in reality the pawns of one of the German Generals? … Now a new novel has been discovered that imagines Britain and Europe as ruled by the Nazis after they won WWII.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the sun / Rabarts, Dan
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again?  Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Archangel’s sun / Singh, Nalini
“The Archangel of Death and the Archangel of Disease may be gone but their legacy of evil lives on – especially in Africa, where the shambling, rotting creatures called the reborn have gained a glimmer of vicious intelligence. It is up to Titus, archangel of this vast continent, to stop the reborn from spreading across the world. Titus can’t do it alone, but of the surviving powerful angels and archangels, large numbers are wounded, while the rest are fighting a surge of murderous vampires. There is no one left . . . but the Hummingbird. Old, powerful, her mind long a broken kaleidoscope. Now she must stand at Titus’s side against a tide of death, upon a discovery more chilling than any other. For the Archangel of Disease has left them one last terrible gift .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A girl from nowhere / Maxwell, James
“Life in the wasteland is a constant struggle. No one knows it better than Taimin. Crippled, and with only his indomitable aunt to protect him, Taimin must learn to survive in a world scorched by two suns and frequented by raiders. But when Taimin discovers his homestead ransacked and his aunt killed, he sets off with one mission: to seek revenge against those who stole everything. With nowhere to call home, his hunt soon takes a turn when he meets a mystic, Selena, who convinces him to join her search for the fabled white city. Taimin and Selena both need refuge, and the white city is a place where Taimin may find someone to heal his childhood injury. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ambergris / VanderMeer, Jeff
 Before Area X, there was Ambergris. Jeff VanderMeer conceived what would become his first cult classic series of speculative works: the Ambergris Trilogy. Now, for the first time ever, the story of the sprawling metropolis of Ambergris is collected into a single volume, including City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword, and Finch.” (Catalogue)

Piranesi / Clarke, Susanna
“Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house. There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The blue eye / Khan, Ausma Zehanat
“The Companions of Hira used their wits and magic to battle against the Talisman, an organization whose hyper conservative agenda limits free thinking and subjugates women. They were defeated. But Arian continues to lead a disparate group of Companions in pursuit of the mystical artifact that could end the Talisman’s rule: The Bloodprint. For the arcane tome slipped out of their reach once more in the heat of battle. Through all they have endured, Arian’s band of allies has always remained united in the face of their enemy. ” (Catalogue)

Master of poisons : a novel / Hairston, Andrea
“The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find. Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile. Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men. ” (Catalogue)

We’re bringing libraries to Wellington’s Pasifika Festival

Our librarians have put together fun and free activities, resources and giveaways aimed for people of all ages and interests to support this year’s Wellington Pasifika Festival.

Visit other countries or new worlds through our free virtual reality experience! From climbing El Capitan to diving down into the Mariana Trench, or flying a car through a dystopian city and more, there is a virtual experience for everyone to try.

Delve into the stories, history and songs of our Pasifika communities by browsing the diverse range of library resources which will be on display.

Say hi to our roving Librarian with their trolley of withdrawn items which they will be giving away to lucky people throughout the afternoon.

Come down to see the library team in the Odlin’s Plaza on the waterfront between 12noon – 6pm this Saturday 23 January 2021. We’re on the grass area outside St John’s bar, near the pedestrian crossing from the Michael Fowler Centre car park.

This summer event includes performance groups from across the Pacific including Mafutaga Tagata Matutua Senior Exercise Group, Israel Star, and opera legend Ben Makisi. The free, whānau friendly event will be hosted by award-winning comedian James Nokise. The full programme is available online.

What to look out for in the World of fiction in 2021 – Part two

Welcome to our second part of our “What to look out for in the World of fiction in 2021” (click here to visit our first instalment).

And for a more comprehensive overview of fiction in 2021 click here to view the Guardian’s overview of literature in 2021.

September

Colm Tóibín author of The Master, which explored the life of Henry James, looks at the life of another literary giant Thomas Mann in his latest novel called The Magician.

The master / Tóibín, Colm
“In January 1895 James anticipates the opening of his first play in London. He has never been so vulnerable, nor felt so deeply unsuited to the public gaze. When the production fails, he returns, chastened, to his writing desk. The result is a string of masterpieces, but they are produced at a high personal cost.” “Colm Toibin captures the exquisite anguish of a man whose artistic gifts made his career a triumph but whose private life was haunted by loneliness and longing, and whose sexual identity remained unresolved. Henry James circulated in the grand parlours and palazzos of Europe, he was lauded and admired, yet his attempts at intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love.” (Catalogue)

Colson Whitehead follows up The Nickel Boys with a “lively heist” novel set amid the crime syndicates of 1960s Harlem called Harlem Shuffle.

The Underground Railroad : a novel / Whitehead, Colson
“A slave named Cora, brutalized by her Georgia master yet shunned by her own, determines to escape via the railroad with newly arrived slave Caesar. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. ” (Catalogue)

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka first novel in almost 50 years Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is due in September 2021 and promises “murder, mayhem and no shortage of drama” and is eagerly awaited in many circles.

You must set forth at dawn : a memoir / Soyinka, Wole
“The first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as a political activist of prodigious energies, Soyinka now follows his modern classic “Ake: The Years of Childhood” with an equally important chronicle of his turbulent life as an adult in (and in exile from) his beloved, beleaguered homeland. The first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as a political activist of prodigious energies, Wole Soyinka now follows his modern classic Ake: The Years of Childhood with an equally important chronicle of his turbulent life as an adult in (and in exile from) his beloved, beleaguered homeland.” (Catalogue)

Pointless host Richard Osman wrote one of the biggest selling books of 2020 The Thursday Murder Club. Despite the fact that it was only published in September 2020 the film rights have already been snapped up by no less than Steven Spielberg. The sequel The Thursday Murder Club 2 is due out in September.

The Thursday murder club / Osman, Richard
” In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Lauren Groff follows up the Fates and Furies with a novel called the Matrix set in the 12th-century in a failing abbey in England.

We see the welcome return of Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks with a novel called Snow Country, a book whose plot revolves around the prelude to World War Two.

Birdsong / Faulks, Sebastian
“Birdsong is the story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who journeys to France on business in 1910 and becomes so entangled in a passionate clandestine love affair that he never returns home. Rootless and heartbroken when war breaks out in 1914, he joins the army and is given command of a brigade of miners, whose macabre assignment is to tunnel beneath German lines and set off bombs under the enemy trenches – thereby creating a pitch-dark subterranean battlefield even more ghastly than the air and trench warfare above them. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

September also sees the provisional date for as yet Untitled new historical novel from Bernard Cornwell.

October

October sees (hopefully) the much delayed and much anticipated cinematic release of Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterwork Dune.

Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel is called Crossroads and examines the myths in 1970s America.

Booker shortlisted Graeme Macrae Burnet releases Case Study about a controversial 60s psychotherapist.

His bloody project : documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae, a historical thriller / Burnet, Graeme Macrae
“Presented as a collection of documents discovered by the author, His Bloody Project opens with a series of police statements taken from the villagers of Culdie, Ross-shire. They offer conflicting impressions of the accused; one interviewee recalls Macrae as a gentle and quiet child, while another details him as evil and wicked. Chief among the papers is Roderick Macrae’s own memoirs where he outlines the series of events leading up to the murder in eloquent and affectless prose. There follow medical reports, psychological evaluations, a courtroom transcript from the trial, and other documents that throw both Macrae’s motive and his sanity into question.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Novermber

In November there is a new as yet untitled novel by the author of The Sea John Banville.

In November Helen Oyeyemi releases a story about a mysterious train journey called Peaces.

Gingerbread / Oyeyemi, Helen
” Perdita Lee may appear your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor flat with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And finally, in our brief overview of 2021 is Salley Vickers follow up to Grandmothers called The Gardener.

Grandmothers / Vickers, Salley
Grandmothers follows four grandmothers – Blanche, who can’t seem to stop stealing things from the local pharmacy; Minna, who just wants a quiet life in her shepherd’s hut, though the local children have other ideas; Cherry, who’s adjusting to life in a care home; and Nan, whose favourite occupation is researching funerals – whose lives and grandchildren become unexpectedly entangled.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Of course, one of the most exciting, interesting and exhilarating things about the world of literature are the unexpected gems and unheralded classics that emerge as the year goes on. We can’t wait to read them!

What to watch out for in the World of fiction in 2021 – Part one

The beginning is always today.” ― Mary Shelley

So now that 2020 is over, what can we look forward to in the world of fiction in 2021? Well, below we have highlighted just a few of the books that have caught our eye some of them by new voices others by well established name and we have supplied ( where relevant ) links to some previous works. For a more comprehensive fiction roundup of 2021 click here to see the Guardian’s Fiction highlights list.

 January

The start of the year sees the release of Luster the debut novel by Reven Leilani. A book that has already attracted a lot of advanced publicity. The plot revolving around an American black millennial tackling the difficulties of sex, work and being.

January also sees the release of Booker prize winning Richard Flanagan’s latest novel The Living Sea of Waking Dreams in which a family deals with questions of mortality in an extinction fable with magical realist overtones set in Australia.


The narrow road to the deep north / Flanagan, Richard
“August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

February

The traditionally quiet publishing month of February sees international prize for Arabic fiction winner Hoda Barakat releasing Voices of the Lost in which six characters share secrets in a war torn country.

March

A busier month with many great books! We see the publication of Klara and the Sun by Nobel prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro. March also heralds the publication of Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom, her follow-up to her bestselling debut Homegoing.

A pale view of hills / Ishiguro, Kazuo
“Etsuko, a middle-aged Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwells on the recent suicide of her elder daughter, Keiko. Despite the efforts of her surviving daughter to distract her thoughts, Etsuko finds herself recalling a particular summer in Nagasaki after the bomb fell.” (Catalogue)

Scottish author Alan Warner’s Kitchenly 434 iIs the tale of a rock star’s Butler at the tail end of the 70’s and promises to be very colourful. Another title to look out for in march is The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen, the sequel to The Sympathizer, set in underworld of 80s Paris.

The sympathizer / Nguyen, Viet Thanh
The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam.The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.” (Catalogue)

In March we also have the international release of the fabulous Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute Book, which has been available here in New Zealand/Aotearoa for quite some time.

The absolute book / Knox, Elizabeth
“The Absolute Book is an epic fantasy, intimate in tone. A book where hidden treasures are recovered; where wicked things people think they’ve shaken from their trails find their scent again. A book about beautiful societies founded on theft and treachery, and one in which dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, set in London, Norfolk, and the Wye Valley; in Auckland, New Zealand; in the Island of Apples and Summer Road of the Sidhe; at Hell’s Gate; in the Tacit with its tombs; and in the hospitals and train stations of Purgatory.” (Catalogue)

April

April kicks off with Reservoir 13’s author Jon McGregor latest book Lean Fall Stand. And also a new collection of stories by Haruki Murakami called First Person SingularHummingbird Salamander by Annihilation’s author Jeff VanderMeer, described as “a climate change conspiracy thriller about ecoterrorism and extinction.”

Dead astronauts / VanderMeer, Jeff
“Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters – Grayson, Morse and Chen – shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A blue fox, a giant fish and language stretched to the limit. A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own. ” (Catalogue)

May

Rachel Cusk’s Second Place explores the nature of male power and privilege as seen through the lens of the Art World and the relationship between a famous male artist and a woman.

Also in May Patrick McGrath releases Last Days in Cleaver Square. Set in 70’s London but concerning a man haunted by his days fighting in the Spanish civil war.

June

June sees the release of Greta and Valdin the debut novel by Rebecca K Reilly. Set in an Auckland apartment, and revolving around a brother and sister navigating around the pit falls of modern romance in what is described as a “beguiling and hilarious novel”.

Also in June we have the third instalment of David Peaces’s Tokyo trilogy entitled Tokyo Redux.

There’s also a modern translation of the ‘Wife of Bath’ called The Wife of Willesden by White Teeth author Zadie Smith; as well as a semi autobiographical novel written her mother Yvonne Bailey-Smith called The Day I Fell Off My Island.

Overdrive cover White Teeth, Zadie Smith (ebook)
“One of the most talked about debut novels of all time, White Teeth is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing – among many other things – with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.”(Overdrive description)

Finally, we have a new book by Scottish author David Keenan called Monument Maker, revolving around France’s great cathedrals.

This is Memorial Device : an hallucinated oral history of the post-punk scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978-1986 / Keenan, David
This Is Memorial Device, the debut novel by David Keenan, is a love letter to the small towns of Lanarkshire in the west of Scotland in the late 1970s and early 80s as they were temporarily transformed by the endless possibilities that came out of the freefall from punk rock. It follows a cast of misfits, drop-outs, small town visionaries and would-be artists and musicians through a period of time where anything seemed possible, a moment where art and the demands it made were as serious as your life. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

July

July sees the release of Animal by Lisa Taddeo, a debut novel about a woman driven to kill when on a road trip with three women.

August

The Women of Troy is the latest book by the multi award winning author Pat Barker and is scheduled for an August release.

The silence of the girls : a novel / Barker, Pat
“There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan war whose voice has been silent – till now... Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story? Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot. ‘Make s] you reflect on the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, the women throughout history who have been told by men to forget their trauma.” (Catalogue)

And finally for our first instalment of ‘What to look out for in the World of fiction in 2021’ we have Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkin’s new novel, A Slow Fire Burning, about a murder on a London houseboat. Look out for our second instalment of ‘What to watch out for in the World of fiction in 2021’ soon.

The girl on the train / Hawkins, Paula
“Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life–as she sees it–is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
UNTIL TODAY And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te Tiriti o Waitangi – 6th February event

Here in Wellington we’re far away from Waitangi where the official Waitangi Day commemorations happen every year. But did you know that we’re lucky enough to be able to visit the Treaty itself locally at the He Tohu exhibition at the National Library?

He Tohu is a permanent exhibition of three Aotearoa New Zealand constitutional documents, and preserves these powerful taonga for future generations. The three documents are:

  • He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (1835)
    Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840)
    Treaty of Waitangi
  • The Women’s Suffrage Petition (1893)
    Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine

On Waitangi Day this year you can visit the National Library for a 30-minute guided tour exploring this multi-award winning exhibition. Tours begin on the hour and half hour between 9.30 am and 4.30 pm, and there’s much more happening besides.

As part of the commemorations, our own He Matapihi Library (housed on-site at the National Library), will be open for the day for browsing, and will host a children’s puppet show by String Bean Puppets.

Please note that He Matapihi will be the only Wellington branch library open on Waitangi Day, and will open from 9:30am – 4:30pm.

What?
Nan and Tuna — a bilingual puppet show, presented by Stringbean Puppets.

Where?
He Matapihi Molesworth Library, 70 Molesworth St, Thorndon.

When?
Saturday 6th Feb at 10:30am

“Nan and Tuna have been friends for 70 years and now it is time for one last adventure together. But before they leave they need to find someone to care for the river. A bilingual puppet show about eels, rivers and friendship.”

The National Library have a full day of activities planned so there will be lots more to see and do, including:

  • Arts and crafts activities for the whole whānau
  • Historical footage of Waitangi Day commemorations curated by Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision
  • A Māori pronunciation workshop to learn more about the Māori words used in Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • An installation of giant banners featuring four Treaty signatories, including local rangatira Te Wharepōuri

Waitangi Day at the National Library

He Matapihi will also have a display of books about the Treaty of Waitangi, including some of these:

The Treaty of Waitangi / Calman, Ross
“The best basic introduction to the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document; it summarizes the history of the Treaty and race relations in New Zealand/ Aotearoa How well do any of us know what the Treaty document means? In this easy-to-follow book, Ross Calman looks at what New Zealand was like before the Treaty and how this important document has effected the way we live now.” (Catalogue)

The Treaty of Waitangi / Orange, Claudia
“Today the Treaty has come to signify what both joins and divides the people of this country. It had different meanings also to those present at the 1840 signing -the new arrivals and the tangatawhenuathen occupying the land. To the British, it was the means by which they gained sovereignty over the country; for Maori, it represented something closer to partnership. That these distinct meanings were conveyed in texts written in different languages only added to the complexities now woven around this crucial agreement.Claudia Orange’s remarkable history was first published in 1987. ” (Catalogue)

Treaty of Waitangi : questions and answers
” Covering many historical and contemporary issues, it is for people who want to gain a basic knowledge about the Treaty of Waitangi and its implications, as well as for those who want to refresh and update their understanding. It includes a summary of legislation and events since 1840 which have breached the Treaty, and a comprehensive reading list for further information. ” (Catalogue)

Treaty of Waitangi settlements
“The settlement of iwi claims under the Treaty of Waitangi has been a prominent feature of New Zealand’s political landscape over the last thirty years. In this timely book, leading scholars offer the first analysis of the economic and social impact of the settlement process.” (Catalogue)

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Morris, Toby
“Ground-breaking full-colour graphic novel about Te Tiriti o Waitangi | The Treaty of Waitangi. Accessible, engaging, image-rich design. Dual-language flip book with Maori and Pakeha authors Ross Calman and Mark Derby. Text in te reo Maori version developed by Maori Language Commission-registered translator Piripi Walker. Reviewed by some of Aotearoas foremost Te Tiriti o Waitangi experts to reflect current scholarship. Includes a link to both versions of the treaty translated into thirty other languages and New Zealand Sign Language.” (Catalogue)

Treaty to Treaty : a history of early New Zealand from the Treaty of Tordesillas 1494 to the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 / Bennett, R. S.
“This book is a large & detailed history of early NZ and includes events elsewhere in the world that have had an effect on this country. The size of this project and the author’s wish to bring to the fore interesting and important material not covered in other historical work has necessitated the production of three volumes rather than the one as originally intended. Volume One contains essays on background topics.” (Catalogue)

Four Writers writing about Newtown….Now exclusively online

We recently had the great pleasure  of staging an event with Rachel Kerr author of Victory Park, Carl Shuker author of A Mistake, Michalia Arathimos author of Aukati and poet  Jackson Nieuwland reading their poem from their collection I am a human being in conversation with Mary McCallum at our  Newtown library.

These four esteemed authors all shared their experiences  about setting their works in Newtown. Each writer having a distinctly different take on  Newtown, with very different voices and all with very different things to say.

If you missed the live event we recorded it live and it’s now available for everyone. Enjoy!

The authors involved were…

Rachel Kerr has exploded onto the New Zealand literary scene with her debut novel Victory Park. About a single mother living on a block of flats in a fictionalised Newtown. Her life is humdrum until the mysterious Bridget moves into the flats, bringing with her unexpected friendship, glamour and wild dreams.

Carl Shuker’s A Mistake. When an operation what goes wrong, in a hospital based on Wellington Regional Hospital in Newtown a young woman dies, who is culpable and who is to blame. The moral and ethical repercussions of this tragic event are explored in this masterful work which was shortlisted for the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize 2020.

Michalia Arathimos’s Aukati begins with two people arriving at a marae to protest fracking at a nearby farm. Family, political protest and culture intersect in this thoughtful, elegant, moving, and economically written novel. Michalia Arathimos describes herself as a Greek-New Zealander she currently is the Writer in Residence at Randell Cottage and will hold the Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship in 2021.

Poet Jackson Nieuwland has been a busy person not only releasing their first beautiful, complex and surreal collection of poetry I am a Human Being, but also opening Food Court Books in Newtown and is also in the process of launching their own publishing house. This promises to be an unmissable event and all are very welcome.


Victory Park / Kerr, Rachel
“Kara lives in Victory Park council flats with her young son, just making a living by minding other people’s kids – her nightly smoke on the fire escape the only time she can drop her guard and imagine something better. But the truth is life is threadbare and unpromising until the mysterious Bridget moves in to the flats. The wife of a disgraced Ponzi schemer she brings with her glamour and wild dreams and an unexpected friendship. Drawn in, Kara forgets for a moment who she’s there to protect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A mistake / Shuker, R. Carl
“Elizabeth Taylor is a surgeon at a city hospital, a gifted, driven and rare woman excelling in a male-dominated culture. One day, while operating on a young woman in a critical condition, something goes gravely wrong. A Mistake is a compelling story of human fallibility, and the dangerous hunger for black and white answers in a world of exponential complication and nuance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The method actors : a novel / Shuker, R. Carl
“The disappearance of a young military historian leads his sister to Japan, where, among the hedonistic expatriate set of which he was a part, she uncovers evidence that her brother may have discovered evidence of war crimes committed by the Japanese during World War II. A first novel. Original. The Method Actors traces the disappearance of a young, gifted military historian named Michael Edwards from his desk in Tokyo and his sister Meredith’s return to the city in search of him. Michael’s research into international war crimes trials will take his sister through four hundred years of history, myth and propaganda, love and infidelity, religious transport and hallucination.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The lazy boys : a novel / Shuker, R. Carl
“Carl Shuker’s protagonist, Richard Sauer, heads off to college for no reason other than to escape the stultifying normalcy of his middle-class family in Timaru, New Zealand. He may appear ordinary in his aimlessness, mangling his way through his first year in college, but his bonging and banging, his anger and rage, take a brutal turn at an out-of-control dorm party which lands Richey in front of the disciplinary committee with a sexual harassment charge. Dropping out of school before he’s thrown out, Richey and his housemates Matt, Nick, and Ursula begin a freefall that forces Richey to face his most destructive desires.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Anti Lebanon, Carl Shuker (ebook)
“It is Arab Spring and the fate of the Christians of the Middle East is uncertain. The many Christians of Lebanon are walking a knife-edge, their very survival in their ancestral refuge in doubt, as the Lebanese government becomes Hezbollah-dominated, while Syria convulses with warring religious factions. Anti Lebanon is a cross-genre political thriller and horror story embedded within these recent events, featuring a multiethnic Christian family living out the lingering after-effects of Lebanon’s civil war as it struggles to deal with its phantoms, its ghosts, and its vampires. (Adapted fromOverdrive description)

Aukati / Arathimos, Michalia
“Alexia is a law student escaping the Greek family that stifles her, and Isaiah is a young Maori returning home to find the family he’s lost. Cut loose from their own cultures, they have volunteered to help Isaiah’s Taranaki iwi get rid of the fracking that’s devastating their land and water. The deeper Alexia and Isaiah go into the fight, the closer they get to understanding the different worlds they inhabit. But when a protest march becomes violent a boundary is crossed, and they need to decide where they stand and fast. It’s clear the police have been tipped off, and the activists gathered at the marae suspect they’re being watched or, worse, there is an informant in the group. Can Alexia and Isaiah be trusted? And more – can they trust themselves?” (Catalogue)

I am a human being / Nieuwland, Jackson
“Poet Jackson Nieuwland  first published collection is a beautiful, complex and surreal body  of work. The poems within are very intimate and display vulnerability, and fragility . Working with the concept that no single  word can adequately defines us. The multiplicity of who we are and what we have the potential to become is explored in a sequence of  poems such as I am an egg, I am a tree, I am a beaver, I am a bear, I am a bottomless pit etc. The works within are delicately accompanied by Steph Maree’s line drawings.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)