Three times listed for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Brannavan Gnanalingam coming to Newtown Library

Three times listed for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Brannavan Gnanalingam will be one of the authors coming to Newtown Library as part of our

Capital Crimespree: Newtown Mystery in the Library event in conjunction with Ngaio Marsh Awards. 

When: 6pm, Friday 30 April 2021

Where: Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Wellington 6021

This is a free event.

Our stellar line up also includes Dame Fiona Kidman one of the most highly acclaimed and celebrated authors in New Zealand,  Sally J Morgan longlisted for the 2021 Acorn Prize for Fiction  and Dr Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell the husband-and-wife writing duo behind the Jessie Teska forensic mysteries. Dr Judy Melinek was part of the forensic team that investigated the 9/11 World Trade Centre site.

We’re so excited to be hosting all these crime-writing luminaries, that we are doing short profiles on all the authors involved.   Our next profile is Brannavan Gnanalingam.

Brannavan Gnanalingam is a Wellington lawyer and writer of fiction and non-fiction. His past three novels have all been listed for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards; Sodden Downstream was shortlisted in 2018. His latest novel Sprigs is on the shortlist for this year’s Fiction award at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and is tipped to feature in the 2021 Ngaio Marsh awards.

If you are interested in crime fiction in any way this event promises to be unmissable and will undoubtedly reveal and  shed light on how these gifted authors craft characters, create exciting storylines and how they address real-life issues through their fiction.

Below is a selection of Brannavan Gnanalingam’s work we have available to borrow.

Click here for the Facebook event.

Please note “Mature/ adult issues of a challenging nature” may be discussed.

Getting under sail / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Brannavan Gnanalingam’s ‘Getting Under Sail’ tells the story of three New Zealanders on an ad hoc road-trip through West Africa. Starting in Morocco, the three aim to reach Ghana via Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

You should have come here when you were not here / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“The intriguing title of this novel by Wellington writer Brannavan Gnanalingam derives from a statement made by Parisians to their Nazi occupiers in World War II when the Germans expressed being underwhelmed by the attractions of the French capital. This postmodern travelogue tells the lonely tale of Veronica, a thirty-something asexual female journalist from New Zealand who travels to Paris late as a freelance journalist only to find the city indifferent to and from her.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

/ Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“‘Credit in the straight world’ charts the fortunes of Frank Tolland as he casts off an ignoble birth to become the singular leader of business and community in small-town New Zealand. Told through the eyes of his mute brother, George, this novel is a sharp and satirical account of a small-town finance company, and sweeps through the dramatic economic changes of the 20th and the 21st centuries”–Publisher’s information.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

A briefcase, two pies and a penthouse : a novel / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“A Briefcase, Two Pies and a Penthouse looks at modern day spies in New Zealand. Instead of ‘Reds Under the Bed’, the new existential threat is Islamic terrorism – and the novel looks at a very New Zealand response to a global issue. Rachel McManus has just started at the New Zealand Alarm and Response Ministry. One of the few females working there, she is forced to traverse the peculiarities of Wellington bureaucracy, lascivious colleagues, and decades of sedimented hierarchy. She has the chance to prove herself by investigating a suspected terrorist, who they fear is radicalising impressionable youth and may carry out an attack himself on the nation’s capital.” (Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Internationally celebrated New Zealand author Dame Fiona Kidman coming to Newtown Library

Facebook Event LInk

Internationally celebrated New Zealand author Dame Fiona Kidman will be one of the authors coming to Newtown Library as part of our

Capital Crimespree: Newtown Mystery in the Library,
in conjunction with Ngaio Marsh Awards. 

When: 6pm Friday 30 April 2021

Where: Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Wellington 6021

This is a free event.

Our stellar line up also includes three-time Ockham New Zealand Book Awards listed author Brannavan Gnanalingam, longlisted 2021 Acorn Prize for Fiction nominee Sally J Morgan and Dr Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell, the husband-and-wife writing duo behind the Jessie Teska forensic mysteries. Dr Judy Melinek was part of the forensic team that investigated the 9/11 World Trade Center site.

We’re so excited to be hosting each of these crime-writing luminaries that we are doing short profiles on all of the authors involved. Our next profile is Dame Fiona Kidman.

Dame Fiona Kidman is one of the most highly acclaimed and celebrated authors in New Zealand. She has an OBE and DNZM for services to literature as well as the French honours the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) and the Légion d’Honneur (French Legion of Honour).

Kidman’s contribution to literature in Aotearoa/New Zealand is vast. Since publishing her first novel in 1970, she has gone on to create a large, powerful and imaginative body of work ranging from novels to short stories, memoirs to poetry, plays to radio series. She has won a huge range of awards, fellowships and residencies and has won the New Zealand Book Award on four separate occasions!

This Mortal Boy, her most recent novel, won the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, the NZ Booklovers Award, the NZSA Heritage Book Award for Fiction and the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

If you are interested in crime fiction in any way this event promises to be unmissable and will undoubtedly reveal and  shed light on how these gifted authors craft characters, create exciting storylines and how they address real-life issues through their fiction.

Below is just a very small selection of Dame Fiona Kidman’s work we have available to borrow.

Click here for the Facebook event.

Please note, mature/ adult issues of a challenging nature may be discussed.

The infinite air / Kidman, Fiona
“The rise and fall of ‘the Garbo of the skies’, as told by one of New Zealand’s finest novelists. Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

True stars. / Kidman, Fiona
“Rose Kendall is alone. She is alienated from her children, her friends, and her political ideals, and there is someone trying to scare her – she doesn’t know why and she doesn’t know who.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

 

The book of secrets / Kidman, Fiona
“In 1853, a group of settlers established a community at Waipu in the northern part of New Zealand. They were led there by a stern preacher, Norman McLeod. The community had followed him from Scotland in 1817 to found a settlement in Nova Scotia, then subsequently to New Zealand via Australia.   – Isabella, her daughter Annie and granddaughter Maria. McLeod’s harsh leadership meant that anyone who ran counter to him had to live a life of secrets. The ‘secrets’ encapsulated the spirit of these women in their varied reactions to McLeod’s strict edicts and connect the past to the present and future.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders?” (Adapted from Catalogue)Also available as an eBook

Crime-writing duo Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell coming to Newtown Library

You may have heard American forensic pathologist and crime writer Judy Melinek and her husband and co-author TJ Mitchell interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand at the end of March. They’re the writing sensations behind the Jessie Teska forensic mystery books — and they’re coming to Newtown Library!

The couple will part of a panel discussion in an exciting line-up that includes three-time Ockhams New Zealand Book Awards listee Brannavan Gnanalingam, 2019 Ngaio Marsh Award and Ockhams winner Dame Fiona Kidman, and 2021 Ockhams long listee Sally J Morgan.

What? A Capital Crimespree – Newtown Mystery in the Library Panel Discussion, an event in association with the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

When? 6pm, Friday 30 April

Where? Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Newtown

Facebook Event Link

We’re so excited to host all these crime-writing luminaries, and in subsequent posts we’ll be profiling them all, but because they were recently interviewed on Radio New Zealand, we thought we’d kick off our panellist profiles with Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell — two authors with storied pasts who relocated to Wellington from America in July 2020.

Judy Melinek is a doctor and forensic pathologist who trained in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Her working life is the subject of the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, co-authored with her husband, writer T.J. Mitchell, and the two also collaborate on their series of novels featuring medical examiner Jessie Teska. Today Dr. Melinek performs autopsies as a forensic pathologist in Wellington, New Zealand.

T.J. Mitchell, as well as being a bestselling author, also has a past as a scriptwriter for Hollywood. To hear more about their remarkable lives and times and how actual forensic practice informs their fictional works, pop along to our Newtown Mystery in the Library event!

Listen to Kim Hill’s interview with this intriguing pair of authors (18 min.)

Please note “Mature/ adult issues of a challenging nature” may be discussed.

Browse their work below:

Working stiff : two years, 262 bodies, and the making of a medical examiner / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. While her husband and their toddler held down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation–performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines Flight 587. An unvarnished portrait of the daily life of medical examiners–complete with grisly anecdotes and chilling crime scenes” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.First cut : a novel / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“For San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr Jessie Teska, it was supposed to be a fresh start. A new job in a new city. A way to escape her own dark past. Instead she faces a chilling discovery when a suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister. Jessie’s superiors urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving nefarious opioid traffickers and flashy tech titans who got rich off Bitcoin. Autopsy means ‘see for yourself,’ and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she has seen it all – even if it means the next corpse on the table could be her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.Aftershock / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body, located on a construction site, rests under a collapsed beam. But when Dr Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the telltale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice and prevent them from potentially striking again. But when a major earthquake hits San Francisco right before Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Talk and draw with Tara Black in discussion with Dylan Horrocks – Saturday 17 April

If you’re a graphic artist, zine creator or comic book fan, this event is a must-see! Come along to hear Tara Black in conversation with Dylan Horrocks. Part workshop, part overview, part discussion — join us for what promises to be a fabulous, informative, and entertaining event.

Facebook Event Link

What? Talk and draw with Tara Black in discussion with Dylan Horrocks

When? Saturday 17 April, 1-2pm

Where? Johnsonville Library, 34 Moorefield Rd, Johnsonville

Picture of Tara Black, link to her websiteTara Black is one of the most distinctive and unique graphic artists working in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Alongside her excellent webcomics (we’re particularly partial to The Blue Fury, in which the ghosts of Janet Frame and Katherine Mansfield get their kicks out of haunting a first-year English teacher), Tara is known for doing live illustrations of events around Wellington City. Tara’s work appears in Booknotes, The Sapling and Stasis Journal. Her first book of graphic works This Is Not A Pipe was published in November 2020 by VUP.

Picture of Dylan Horrocks, link to his websiteThe Eisner Award-winning Dylan Horrocks, of course, is one of the most talented and versatile cartoonists working in the scene today. His works range from the meta-comic tour-de-force that is Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen (VUP, 2014) to the iconic Hicksville (Black Eye Comics, 1998), which we  believe draws some inspiration from  Hastings, which may have been briefly known as Hicksville in the early 1870s, with a healthy dose of work on the Batman and Batgirl comics in the early-mid 2000s.

View this event on Facebook

Upcoming Event: Capital Crimes – Karori Mystery in the Library 9th April

Are you a fan of mysteries? The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Wellington City Libraries, invites booklovers to a fun evening of criminally good conversation, featuring four acclaimed local storytellers. This is a free event.

Event details

What? A panel discussion with local authors Jennifer Lane (2018 Ngaio Marsh Award Winner, panel chair), Rajorshi Chakraborti, Helen Vivienne Fletcher, and Rodney Strong, on how they craft memorable characters and page-turning storylines, and infuse their books with real-life issues and insights into people and society

When? 6pm, Friday 9 April 2021

Where? Karori Library, 247 Karori Road, Wellington

Pictures of authors together with their book covers, superimposed over a picture of Wellington harbour

About the panel

Jennifer Lane

Catalogue link: All our secrets, by Jennifer Lane

Jennifer Lane is a copywriter, short story writer and author. Her short stories have been published in journals and magazines in New Zealand and Australia. Jennifer’s debut novel, All Our Secrets, won the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel.

Rajorshi Chakraborti

Catalogue link: Shakti, by Rajorshi Chakraborti

Rajorshi Chakraborti is a novelist, essayist and short story writer who grew up in Calcutta and Mumbai. The author of six novels, he was longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural mystery thriller set in India.

Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Catalogue link: Broken Silence, by Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Helen Vivienne Fletcher is a playwright, poet, writing teacher and children’s author. She has been shortlisted for the Joy Cowley Award, was named Outstanding Young Playwright at the Wellington Theatre Awards and was a finalist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Rodney Strong

Catalogue link: Troy's possibilities, by Rodney Strong

Rodney Strong is a Porirua author who left his day job in 2016 to follow his lifelong dream of being a writer. He has now published ten novels for children and adults, including four Ghostly Hitchhiker mysteries and three Silvermoon Retirement Village mysteries.


Don’t forget to check out our second Ngaio Marsh Awards event later in the month — A Capital Crimespree – Newtown Mystery in the Library (6pm on April 30th at Newtown Library), featuring Brannavan Gnanalingam, Dame Fiona Kidman, Sally J Morgan and New York Times bestselling writing duo Dr Judy Melinek and T.J Michell. Both events are unmissable!

2021 Fiction Ockham Shortlist Announced

(Image credit: New Zealand Book Awards Trust.)

The Ockham 2021 fiction shortlist has just been announced and what a wildly diverse, eclectic and fabulous list it is. There are two previous winners in there – Pip Adam and Catherine Chidgey – and it is safe to say that, as befits New Zealand’s top fiction award, some very challenging issues are explored in several of the books, including the Holocaust, the aftermath of a sexual assault at a high school rugby game, surveillance, gender and the longtail effects of capitalism.

The quality and calibre of all four finalists in the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction is quite exceptional and all four books are highly readable and available to borrow from Wellington City Libraries.

You can also see shortlisted author Brannavan Gnanalingam at our forthcoming A Capital Crimespree event at Newtown Library on the 30th of April.  For full details of that event click here.

Bug week & other stories / Beautrais, Airini
“A science educator in domestic chaos fetishises Scandinavian furniture and champagne flutes. A group of white-collar deadbeats attend a swinger’s party in the era of drunk Muldoon. A pervasive smell seeps through the walls of a German housing block. A seabird performs at an open-mic night. Bug Week is a scalpel-clean examination of male entitlement, a dissection of death, an agar plate of mundanity. From 1960s Wellington to post-Communist Germany, Bug Week traverses the weird, the wry and the grotesque in a story collection of human taxonomy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Nothing to see / Adam, Pip
“It’s 1994. Peggy and Greta are learning how to live sober. They go to meetings and they ring their support person, Diane.  They live with Heidi and Dell, who are also like them. It’s 2006. Peggy and Greta have two jobs: a job at a call centre, and a job as a moderator for a website. They’re teaching themselves how to code. Heidi and Dell don’t live together anymore. It’s 2018. Margaret lives next door to Heidi and her family. She has a job writing code that analyses data for a political organisation, and she’s good at it. Every day she checks an obsolete cellphone she found under her bed, waiting for messages. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Remote sympathy / Chidgey, Catherine
“Moving away from their lovely apartment in Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared.  Frau Hahn and the other officers’ wives living in this small community can order anything they desire, whether new curtains made from the finest French fabrics, or furniture designed to the most exacting specifications. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic. When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, her naïve ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.”–cover. (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

For a  full list of all other categories shortlisted, see below:

On this weekend! The Garden Party, a new summer festival

A new summer festival is coming to Pōneke and it is happening this weekend ( 2oth and 21st Feb) , organised by the wonderful people who have brought us the Verb Festival and The Spinoff. It’s called The Garden Party, and it promises to be a fabulous celebration of music, talks and food aimed at the whole family.

To give you a taste of  just one of the many unmissable delights on offer we have a very exclusive sneak peek at just one of the many highlights:- Navigating the Stars by Taki Rua Productions and Witi Ihimaera. This event integrates readings and live music to bring Māori creation myths vividly to be life.

Navigating the Stars – Taki Rua Productions and Witi Ihimaera

Verb Wellington in partnership with Taki Rua Productions bring Witi Ihimaera’s new book Navigating The Stars off the page, in a special Garden Party performance reading with live music directed and led by Maiava Nathaniel Lees.

Sunday 21 February, 10am

Other Highlights include:

Songs, Stories, Sass and Splash — Sacha Cotter & Josh Morgan in The Treehouse
Illustrator Josh Morgan (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata) and author Sacha Cotter together are the amazing storytelling/songwriting/award-winning-picture-book-making team, Cotter & Morgan. Together they have created Keys/Ngā Kī, The Marble Maker/Te Kaihanga Māpere, and the 2019 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, The Bomb/Te Pohū – all published by HUIA. Sunday 21 February

11.30am: Watch out for Sacha and Josh in the Big Fun Family Quiz

12.10pm: Songs, Stories, Sass & SPLASH with Sacha Cotter & Josh Morgan in the Treehouse

Big Fun Family Quiz — with hosts Toby Morris & Toby Manhire
Toby Morris & Toby Manhire (The Spinoff) host a quiz full of fun questions for the whole family with special cameo guests. Win prizes, come dressed as your favourite book characters for bonus points. Sunday 21 February, 11.30am

 

Plus there are loads of other activities planned too (flag makingnature activity fun with Rachel Haydon, a treasure huntstring ‘o’ spells, and the nature activity book walking tour), so keep an eye out for the full timetable on Verb Wellington’s The Garden Party webpage.

So, gather friends and whānau and come along to the Botanic Garden Soundshell on the 20th and 21st of February for a weekend full of the interesting and the delicious!

Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2021 Longlist

The longlist for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards has just been announced — and what a strong, vibrant and impressive line-up it is! The list is full of diverse and varied novels and voices, and we think it’s noteworthy that half the fiction nominees this year are debut authors — evidence if any was needed that Aotearoa’s thriving literary scene goes from strength to strength.

We wish to extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the nominated authors — and we really don’t envy the judges’ job of distilling this list down to a shortlist and then again down to the overall winners. The shortlist will be announced on March 3 and the winners will be announced in May at the 2021 Auckland Writers Festival.

Below is our video of longlisted author Rachel Kerr talking about her debut novel Victory Park at our recent Four writers writing about Newtown event:

Longlist:

Nothing to see / Adam, Pip
“It’s 1994. Peggy and Greta are learning how to live sober. They volunteer at the Salvation Army shop, and sometimes they sleep with men for money. They live with Heidi and Dell, who are also like them. It’s 2006. Peggy and Greta have two jobs: a job at a call centre, and a job as a moderator for a website. They’re teaching themselves how to code. One day, Peggy and Greta turn around and there’s only one of them. It’s 2018. Margaret lives next door to Heidi and her family. She has a job writing code Then, one day, there are two of them again, both trying to figure out where they have come from. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bug week & other stories / Beautrais, Airini
“A science educator in domestic chaos fetishises Scandinavian furniture and champagne flutes. A group of white-collar deadbeats attend a swinger’s party in the era of drunk Muldoon. A pervasive smell seeps through the walls of a German housing block. A seabird performs at an open-mic night. Bug Week is a scalpel-clean examination of male entitlement, a dissection of death, an agar plate of mundanity. From 1960s Wellington to post-Communist Germany, Bug Week traverses the weird, the wry and the grotesque in a story collection of human taxonomy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Remote sympathy / Chidgey, Catherine
“Moving away from their lovely apartment in Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared.  Frau Hahn and the other officers’ wives living in this small community can order anything they desire, whether new curtains made from the finest French fabrics, or furniture designed to the most exacting specifications. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic. When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, her naive ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.”–cover.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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)

The swimmers / Lane, Chloe
“Erin’s mother has motor neurone disease and has decided to take her fate into her own hands. As Erin looks back at her twenty-six-year-old self, she can finally tell the story of the unimaginable task she faced one winter”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Fake baby / McDaid, Amy
Stephen’s dead father is threatening to destroy the world. If Stephen commits the ultimate sacrifice and throws himself into the harbour, he will save humanity. The last thing he needs is a Jehovah’s Witness masquerading as a schoolboy and an admission to a mental health facility. Jaanvi steals a life-like doll called James and cares for him as if he were her dead baby. Her husband demands she return him. But she and James have already bonded, and it’s nobody’s business how she decides to grieve. Lucas, pharmacist and all-round nice guy, is having one of the worst weeks of his life. His employees forgot his birthday, his mother’s gone manic, and now his favourite customer is in hospital because of a medication error he made. Can he make things right? Or is life all downhill after forty?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

2000ft above worry level / Marra, Eamonn
“Everything is sad and funny and nothing is anything else 2000ft Above Worry Level begins on the sad part of the internet and ends at the top of a cliff face. This episodic novel is piloted by a young, anhedonic, gentle, slightly disassociated man. He has no money. He has a supportive but disintegrating family. He is trying hard to be better. He is painting a never-ending fence. Eamonn Marra’s debut novel occupies the precarious spaces in which many twenty-somethings find themselves, forced as they are to live in the present moment as late capitalism presses in from all sides. Mortifying subjects – loserdom, depression, unemployment, cam sex – are surveyed with dignity and stoicism. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sorrow and bliss / Mason, Meg
” This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going. Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it. By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Toto among the murderers / Morgan, Sally J
“‘It is 1973 and Jude – known to her friends as Toto – has just graduated from art school and moves into a house in a run-down part of Leeds. Jude is a chaotic wild child who flirts with the wrong kind of people. Nel, is the only steady influence Jude has but Nel’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems. Reports of attacks on women punctuate the news and Jude takes off again, suffocated by an affair she has been having with a married woman. But what she doesn’t realise is that the violence is moving ever closer to home. At the same time infamous murderers, Fred and Rosemary West, are stalking the country, on the lookout for girls like Jude.” (Adapted from 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)

Reading the signs. Our exclusive Janis Freegard poetry reading

I am blue. I am a deep, electric shade of blue and I sound like waves crashing. My colour is so intense it has substance even though it lacks mass.”

Except from by Perhaps the spider on my pillow is spinning me a dream by Janis Freegard

Editors note: – this blog is from Neil Johnstone our fiction specialist who also works as an artist and supplied the artwork for Reading the signs.  

Photo by James Ogle

Janis Freegard is regarded as one of the most unique and distinctive voices in the New Zealand literary World at the moment.

Known for her works as both a poet and as a novelist, Janis moved to New Zealand when she was aged twelve and has degrees in botany, plant ecology and public management, the first two of which very clearly influence her writing and certainly her interest in spiders!

She was the winner of the 2001 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award.

And in 2014, she held the inaugural Ema Saiko Poetry Fellowship at New Pacific Studio in the Wairarapa. Which is where she commenced work on her current prose poem sequence Reading the signs.

Janis was also the winner of the 2019 Geometry/Open Book National Poetry competition.

Her work has been in numerous poetry collections and three previous solo collections Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus, The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider and The Glass Rooster.

“I first met Janis when I emigrated to New Zealand three years ago and was thrilled when Madison Hamill her editor at Cuba Press suggested that Janis included some of my artwork in Reading the signs. We both share some common themes and interests in our recent works.” says Neil.

We were delighted when Janis invited us along to the launch of her latest collection Reading the signs to record the first ever recitals from the Reading the Signs collection . Enjoy!



Kingdom Animalia : the escapades of Linnaeus / Freegard, Janis
“The poems in this first full collection from New Zealand’s Janis Freegard are categorized by Linnaean taxonomy: the six sections Mammalia, Aves, Amphibia, Pisces, Insecta, and Vermes are interspersed with a seven-part poem on the topic of Carolus Linneaus himself. Here Freegard catalogs the various fantastic and artistic, anthropomorphic and objective, rational and self-serving ways that humans draw on the animal world: as symbol and allegory, food and friend, ravening enemy, and sacred icon. From surreal prose poems to gorgeous lists–featuring a stuffed Maori dog, murderous magpies, and cake-shop cockroaches–Freegard’s verse reflects the diversity of the animal kingdom and its light-hearted fancifulness belies a strong commitment to conservation.” (Catalogue)

The glass rooster / Freegard, Janis
“The poems in The Glass Rooster explore the spaces inhabited by humans and other creatures–from natural ecosystems to cities and even to outer space. Our guide on this journey is a glass rooster–observer of stars and lover of hens–who first popped up in Janis Freegard’s poetry years ago and wanders unchecked through the book. Each of the eight sections (or “echo-systems”) in the book–the Damp Places, Forest, Cityscape, the Alpine Zone, Space, Home & Garden, Underground, and In the Desert–is introduced by a triolet: a French poetic form with repeated lines. Other poems are arranged in pairs, each echoing something about the other, whether desert plants, the presence of balloons, or the dangers of working in a mine. The result is a tremendous, riotous exploration of an interconnected world.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The year of falling / Freegard, Janis
“When the porcelain dolls start turning up on Selina’s doorstep, she knows it’s a bad sign. Shortly afterwards she embarks on an ill-judged affair with a celebrity TV chef. Both events, and the lies an untold truths at their heart, precipitate a spectacular fall from grace for high-flying graphic artist, Selina.” (Catalogue)

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
“A father rollerblading to church in his ministerial robes, a university student in a leotard sprinting through fog, a trespass notice from Pak’nSave, a beautiful unborn goat in a jar . . . In scenarios ranging from the mundane to the surreal, Madison Hamill looks back at her younger selves with a sharp eye. Was she good or evil? Ignorant or enlightened? What parts of herself did she give up in order to forge ahead in school, church, work, and relationships, with a self that made sense to others? ” (Catalogue)

 Reading the Signs / Freegard, Janis
“Reading the Signs is Janis Freegard’s most recent poetry collection. The work is a prose poetry sequence which explores our inner and outer world’s through various means such as divination and the rich diversity of life as viewed through a poet as biological scientist lens. The core themes behind this  often humorous  but also serious collection are loss and recovery, climate change and gender fluidity not to mention spiders, piglets and Tasseography (tea leaf reading) . The publication includes accompanying art works by Neil Johnstone” ( Adapted from catalogue)

NaNoWriMo: Librarians’ recommendations & resources

To help out all of our budding author’s this National Novel Writing Month, we asked all of our librarians across the city for some of their best recommendations of books, online resources and more:

Paul and Zoe recommend Syndetics book coverBird by bird : some instructions on writing and life / Anne Lamott.
“If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this books for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eves open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoth Fiona and Debbie suggested  The exercise book : creative writing exercises from Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters / edited by Bill Manhire … [et al.].
“Writers of all skill levels can give their minds a work-out with this extensive book of writing prompts and exercises. Brimming with stimulating trigger ideas, the exercises help readers explore the nuts and bolts of the craft, from poetry and short fiction to scriptwriting, while helping to find inspiration everywhere.” (Syndetics summary) So obviously this one must be good!

Syndetics book coverMonty’s suggested you check out On writing / Charles Bukowski ; edited by Abel Debritto.
“Sharp and moving reflections and ruminations on the artistry and craft of writing from one of our most iconoclastic, riveting, and celebrated masters. In this collection of correspondence, letters to publishers, editors, friends, and fellow writers-the writer shares his insights on the art of creation. On Writing reveals an artist brutally frank about the drudgery of work and canny and uncompromising about the absurdities of life, and of art.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Jess & Celeste, both Stephen King fans suggested Syndetics book coverOn writing : a memoir of the craft / by Stephen King
“Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, Stephen King’s critically lauded, classic bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Celeste also rated the Goodreads list ‘Best Books on Writing’ which (suprise suprise) has Stephen King’s memoir as number 1!

Max from Karori loves Pinterest! You can search for writing hints, tips, tricks or images to help inspire you, and follow the WCL boards for recent picks.

If you’re like Jess and eBooks are your thing, make sure you check out the collection of Writings on Writings that she put together for you. Just download the Libby App or visit the Overdrive webpage to get started.

Prefer magazines? Fiona suggests you check out Mslexia: for women who write. as well as Writing Magazine. Both excellent resources for creative writers!

Paul had a bunch of suggestions for you, take a look at:

Syndetics book coverThe writer’s journey : mythic structure for writers / Christopher Vogler.
“The updated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler’s ongoing work on mythology’s influence on stories, movies, and man himself. The previous two editons of this book have sold over 180,000 units, making this book a ‘classic’ for screenwriters, writers, and novelists.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnd Zen in the art of writing / Ray Bradbury.
“Bradbury, all charged up, drunk on life, joyous with writing, puts together nine past essays on writing and creativity and discharges every ounce of zest and gusto in him.” — Kirkus Reviews. “Zen and the Art of Writing is purely and simply Bradbury’s love song to his craft.” — Los Angeles Times” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnd The Paris review : interviews, I / with an introduction by Philip Gourevitch.
“How do great writers it? The Paris Review has elicited some of the most revelatory and revealing thoughts from the literary masters of our age. For more than half a century, the magazine has spoken with most of our leading novelists, poets, and playwrights, and the interviews themselves have come to be recognized as classic works of literature, an essential and definitive record of the writing life.” (Syndetics summary)

And Tim, a former NaNoWriMo survivor swears by writemonkey.com. It’s a minimalist text editor which goes full screen so you don’t have any distractions. He used it for all his incredible poetry and clever short stories. His other recommendation for would be to throw one’s phone down the back of the couch.

Best of luck! and make sure you check out wcl.govt.nz/nanowrimo and follow us on Facebook, and Instagram and Twitter @wcl_library for more survival tips and tricks.

Read before you crawl… a Poetry Showcase

If poetry is your thing then get ready to be excited for this year’s line up because poets are out in numbers! Mark your calendars for November 10th and start planning your crawl! For lovers of prose make sure you check out the LitCrawl Extended Programme as well, the Poetry Showcase is a must see! With so many poets, musicians and wordsmiths to chose from, here are our selections for must reads before the crawl!

Poūkahangatus / Tibble, Tayi
“This collection speaks about beauty, activism, power and popular culture with compelling guile, a darkness, a deep understanding and sensuality. It dives through noir, whakamā and kitsch and emerges dripping with colour and liquor. These poems time-travel through the powdery mint-green 1960s and the polaroid sunshine 1970’s to the present day. Their language and forms are liquid-sometimes as lush as what they describe, other times deliberately biblical or oblique.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

There’s no place like the internet in springtime / Kennedy, Erik
“Layering comedy over insight and pathos over comedy, mixing its flexible couplets with beautifully spiky free verse, Erik Kennedy’s first collection should climb up all the right charts: his phrases can go anywhere, then come back, and he has figured out how to sound both trustworthy and nonplussed, giddy and humble, in the same breath. Sometimes he impersonates spiny lobsters; sometimes he’s a socialist chambered nautilus. Sometimes he’s our best guide to the globe-trotting ridiculous.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Are friends electric? / Heath, Helen
“Offering a vivid and moving vision of a past, present and future mediated by technology, the first part of thisbold new collection is comprised largely of found poems which emerge from conversations about sex bots, people who feel an intimate love for bridges, fences and buildings, a meditation on Theo Jansens beautifully strange animal sculptures, and the lives of birds in cities. A series of speculative poems further explores questions of how we incorporate technology into our lives and bodies.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

The farewell tourist / Glenny, Alison
“Pushing the boundaries of what poetry might be The Farewell Tourist is haunting, many-layered and slightly surreal. In The Magnetic Process sequence a man and a woman inhabit a polar world, adrift in zones of divergence, where dreams are filled with snow, icebergs, and sinking ships. Their scientific instruments and observations measure a fragmented and uncertain space where conventional perspectives are violated. By turns mysterious, ominous and evocative, they represent connections to an obscured narrative of disintegration and icy melancholy.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

The ski flier / McMillan, Maria
“As it traverses various landscapes, The Ski Flier also moves through a world where strength and self doubt exist in the same moment. Maria McMillan’s vivid second full poetry collection takes in mountains and cities, dragons and daughters, hope and wish fulfilment, demolition and renewal. With shining intelligence these poems demand that we pay attention to where we have been and where we are now.” (Victoria University Press Summary)

he’s so MASC / Tse, Chris
He’s So MASC confronts a contemporary world of self-loathing poets and compulsive liars, of youth and sexual identity, and of the author as character–pop star, actor, hitman, and much more. These are poems that delve into worlds of hyper-masculine romanticism and dancing alone in night clubs. With it’s many modes and influences, an acerbic, acid-bright, yet unapologetically sentimental and personal reflection on what it means to perform and dissect identity, as a poet and a person.” (Adapted Sydnetics Summary)

Alzheimer’s and a spoon / Breslin, Liz
This collection takes its readers on a tangled trip. Public stories – a conversation at the Castle of the Insane, on-line quizzes to determine if you are mostly meercat or Hufflepuff. #stainlessteelkudos. Personal tales, of Liz’s babcia, a devout Catholic and a soldier in the Warsaw Uprising, who spent her last years with Alzheimer’s disease. There is much to remember that she so badly wanted to forget. What do you do when life gives you spoons? (Amazon Summary)

The facts / Lloyd, Therese
“Guided by the work of Anna Carson, these poems trace the end of a marriage, a toxic love affair, age and aging, and the deeper question of spiritual meaning. Running throughout is Therese Lloyd’s quest to prove that art is essential to life.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

XYZ of happiness / McCallum, Mary
“Poems of happiness… as it comes, when it’s missing and when it is hoped for.” –Back cover.” (Syndetics Summary)

NZ Festival 2018 Writers & Readers: a selection

With New Zealand Festival 2018 Writers & Readers just around the corner and right on our doorstep, we’ve compiled this special selection of the latest titles from some of this year’s speakers. So take a look, place your reserves and have a read before heading along to some of the events! From fiction to science fiction, non-fiction on history, politics, poetry this year’s line up is set to blow you away!

Want the eBooks instead? Or a larger selection from this year’s speakers? You can also check out our Overdrive collection as well.


Syndetics book coverHera Lindsay Bird / Hera Lindsay Bird.
“Bird turns her prescient eye on love and loss, and what emerges is like a helicopter in fog…or a bejewelled Christmas sleigh, gliding triumphantly through the contemporary aesthetic desert…this is at once an intelligent and compelling fantasy of tenderness…heartbreaking and charged with trees…without once sacrificing the forest…Whether you are masturbating luxuriously in your parent’s sleepout…or pushing a pork roast home in a vintage pram…this is the book for you. But you know, do whatever you like lol” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDrawn out : a seriously funny memoir / Tom Scott.
“Tom Scott is a political commentator, political cartoonist, satirist, scriptwriter, playwright, raconteur and funny man. He’s been drawing political cartoons for Wellington’s Dominion Post since 1988, was in the Press Gallery and was famously banned by PM Muldoon. His memoir covers his childhood – a tragi-comedy of a poor Irish Catholic family, his uni days when he was editor of the student newspaper and sued for blasphemous libel, his parliamentary career, his work with Ed Hillary and more.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe natural way of things / Charlotte Wood.
“Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage – a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Cage [paperback]
“Two mysterious strangers appear at a hotel in a small country town.
Where have they come from? Who are they? What catastrophe are they fleeing? The townspeople want answers, but the strangers are unable to speak of their trauma. And before long, wary hospitality shifts to suspicion and fear, and the care of the men slides into appalling cruelty. Lloyd Jones’s fable-like novel The Cage is a profound and unsettling novel.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix months, three days, five others / Charlie Jane Anders.
“Before the success of her debut Science Fiction and Fantasy novel All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders was a rising star in SF and fantasy short fiction. Collected in a mini-book format, here, for the first time in print, are six of her quirky, wry, engaging best” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTightrope / Selina Tusitala Marsh.
“In Marsh’s poetry, sharp intelligence combines a focused warrior fierceness with perceptive humour and energy, upheld by the mana of the Pacific. She mines rich veins, the tradition and culture of her whanau and Pacific nations; the works of feminist poets and leaders to probe the particularities of words and cultures. Tightrope takes us from the bustle of the world’s largest Polynesian city, Auckland, through Avondale and Apia, and on to London and New York on an extraordinary poetic voyage.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPortholes to the past : reflections on the early 20th century / Lloyd Geering.
“Reflecting on two world wars, the Great Depression, and changes he has experienced in education, family life, growth of personal freedom, leisure and entertainment, life in the churches, and more. He concludes with cautious optimism: it may not be too much to hope that from the fragments of dismantled Christendom we may rediscover and reinvigorate the moral values of justice, truth and environmental guardianship.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDemocracy and its crisis / A. C. Grayling.
“Prompted by the EU referendum in the UK and the presidential election in the USA, Grayling investigates why the institutions of representative democracy seem unable to hold up against forces they were designed to manage, and why, crucially, it matters. With the advent of authoritarian leaders and the rise of populism, representative democracy appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place, yet it is this space that it must occupy, if a civilized society, that looks after all its people, is to flourish.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrue stories & other essays / Francis Spufford.
“An irresistible collection of favorite writings from an author celebrated for his bravura style and sheer unpredictability. Ranging freely across topics as diverse as the medieval legends of Cockaigne, the Christian apologetics of C. S. Lewis, and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, Spufford provides both fresh observations and thought-provoking insights. No less does he inspire an irresistible urge to turn the page and read on.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe liberation / Ian Tregillis.
“I am the mechanical they named Jax. My kind was built to serve humankind, but now our bonds are breaking, and my brothers and sisters are awakening. Set in a world that might have been, of mechanical men and alchemical dreams, this is the third and final novel in a stunning series of revolution, confirming Ian’s place as one of the most original new voices in speculative fiction.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Māori Boy: a conversation with Witi Ihimaera

witi
Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending an author talk with Witi Ihimaera about his latest book, Māori Boy, held at National Library. Māori Boy: a memoir of childhood is a recollection of the author’s early life growing up near Gisborne in the 1940s and 1950s. As a life-long fan of Ihimaera’s writing, I was really excited and interested to hear him speak about his experiences of writing the book and about some of the events and relationships in his childhood which inspired it. The event was incredibly well attended, creating a need for extra seats as well as more speakers; testifying to the popularity of this iconic New Zealand writer. The audience were also treated to a brief teaser video of Lee Tamahori’s upcoming film The Patriarch, which is based on Ihimaera’s well-loved novel Bulibasha. I was also lucky enough to get my shiny new copy of the book signed!

We have plenty of copies available here at the library:

Syndetics book coverMāori boy : a memoir of childhood / Witi Ihimaera.
Maori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood is the first volume of Witi Ihimaera’s enthralling memoir, packed with stories from the formative years of the bestselling author of Whale Rider and Pounamu, Pounamu. He tells of his early life in rural and small town New Zealand, of family secrets, of facing anguish and challenges, and of laughter and love.” (from randomhouse)

ComicFest Profile: Greg Broadmore 101

The Shmuck_webGB_KSC resized

Greg Broadmore will take part in a panel talk with fellow Weta Workshop artist, Paul Tobin on Saturday the 2nd of May, between 12 and 1pm at the Central library. Images from their brilliant film and comic works as well as items from the Weta Cave will be on display. It’s going to be a lot of fun and before the afternoon in question, here’s a quick profile accompanied by pictures from this multi-talented artists imagined worlds.

Best known in comic circles for his work on the thoroughly imagined and awesomely funny, Dr Grordbort series, Greg Broadmore has also worked as a children’s illustrator, as designer of public art works such as the Tripod sculpture in Courtney Place, but also as concept designer and sculpture on films such as King Kong, The Adventures of Tintin and District 9.

1263721211_EXO_black_1000

Concept painiting from District 9 of the Exo suit. Greg Broadmore 2008

His Dr Grordbort comic series is a wonderfully exaggerated comic parody of ancient and violent colonial attitudes personified in the faux-British form and murderous swagger of one Lord Cockswain.

DrGBook3pagepreview2

Page from ‘Triumph : unnecessarily violent tales of science adventure for the simple and unfortunate.’

The steam-punk  influenced Science Fiction comicsDoctor Grordbort’s contrapulatronic dingus directory,’ Victory: Scientific adventure violence for young men and literate women and Triumph: Unnecessarily violent tales of scientific adventure’ for the simple and unfortunate,’ form the backbone of the Doctor Grordbort comic legend and narrative but this has now extended into intricate ray-gun and weapon replicas, and subsequently into an international touring show that swung through blustery ole Wellington in early 2013!

DrGrordbort_Exceptional_Exhibtion_SU5

Doctor Grordbort’s exceptional exhibition

Whilst we wait for the further lusty adventures of Dr Grordbort, Greg continues to work for Weta Workshop on the Dr Grordbort universe in its many guises, along with occasional film work and inspired illustrations!

gb_girlandtyrantlizardfriend

Girl and tyrant lizard friend

For more ComicFest information and an events timetable go here to our events calender or Facebook page, and check out the display items from Weta Cave on Central’s 1st floor from the 17th of April.

As the fearless Lord Cockswain would say, and quite about another issue all together, probably alien related – but let’s be clear, ah – definitely comic inspired…  “Quit Lolly-Gagging, man, off you go!”

From our librarians: NZ Book Month picks

Earlier this month, we asked our colleagues what their favourite New Zealand book was – here are the results:

Syndetics book coverDreamhunter / Elizabeth Knox.Dreamhunter
“I think I would have to say it’s Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamhunter, I read it when I was 17 and still remember parts of it vividly, and keep wanting to read it again!” (Ottilie)

Syndetics book coverReach / Hugh Brown.
“It is such a wonderful story about growing up in NZ” (Dani)

Syndetics book coverPotiki / Patricia Grace.
“For me, it would probably have to be Potiki by Patricia Grace. It opened a window into a different world for me, one I have been learning about ever since. It is beautifully written and I’ve reread it 4 times, which is very unusual for me!” (Pippa)

Syndetics book coverThe kindness of strangers : (kitchen memoirs) / Shonagh Koea ; with illustrations by Peter Wells.
“I’ve read embarrassingly little New Zealand literature but my favourite so far would be In the Kindness of Strangers: Kitchen Memoirs by Shonagh Koea.” (Beth)

Syndetics book coverWork in progress / by Paul Thomas.
“I really like Paul Thomas’ “Work in Progress”. Its an old one though. What I like about it is the way he writes about day to day things with wit and humour and ravishing honesty.” (Kim)

Syndetics book coverDear sweet Harry / Lynn Jenner.
“Fantastically diverse collection of poetry from a super-naturally talented writer.” (Monty)

Syndetics book coverIt’s love, isn’t it? : the love poems / Alistair Te Ariki Campbell and Meg Campbell ; with an introduction by Joy MacKenzie.
“Poetic tit for tat as Alistair and Meg, often on opposing pages, write poetry on the same events in their life but from, of course, differing and often completely opposite points of view. Affirming and heartbreaking.” (Monty)

Syndetics book coverMr. Allbones’ ferrets : an historical pastoral satirical scientifical romance, with mustelids / Fiona Farrell.
”Currently mine is Mr Allbone’s Ferrets by Fiona Farrell. Wonderfully written, quirky and fun.” (Sara)

Syndetics book coverSoundtrack : 118 great New Zealand albums / Grant Smithies.
“Why? Because the author’s choice of records highlights the eclectic range of music that NZ is famous for……and because he writes about each album in an engaging and highly entertaining style.” (John)

Syndetics book coverFaces in the water
“I think Faces in the Water by Janet Frame needs to be on the list if it’s not already!” (Emily)

Syndetics book coverMemé : the three worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander / Memé Churton.
“A NZ book that I enjoyed reading and was really touched by its narrative is the biography titled, ‘Memé: the three worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander’ by Memé Churton.  Memé married a New Zealander after the 2nd WW and ended up settling in Auckland in the 1950’s. Her life story is set against a dramatic backdrop of history and was shaped by her dynamic personality and the lives of the people who crossed her path. The story has impressed me as I can so very much relate to Memé’s insights into the European lifestyle and family upbringing, and , I can also share her thoughts related to the culture shock that she experienced, when she first arrived in New Zealand. I would recommend this biography to those who love history, politics and intercultural relations.” (Celia)

Syndetics book coverThe Halfmen of O / Maurice Gee.
“I really like the Halfmen Of O series by Maurice Gee. I remember listening to them on the radio when my children were small and they were just great stories.” (Sylvia) (Raewyn & Tamadea’s picks too)

Syndetics book coverThe scarecrow / by Ronald Hugh Morrieson.
“My pick for fiction would have to be “The Scarecrow” by Ronald Hugh Morieson. It’s a savagely comic look at murder, sex, adolescence and family in a small New Zealand town during the Depression. Unlike a lot of New Zealand literature, it’s not dour or po-faced. The characters are brilliantly written, despite some of them being quite grotesque. It is also has probably the best opening line of any NZ novel: “The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut. ” It really sets up the wonderful mixture of murder and the mundane that run through the entire novel.” (Nicola)

The Godwits Fly by Robin Hyde
“A wonderful work of New Zealand literature which evocates a vivid image of early 20th Century Wellington with all its sights, smells and characters.” (Gabor)

Daylight / Elizabeth Knox.
“Randomly, probably something by Elizabeth Knox, probably Daylight (everyone else would say The Vintner’s Luck maybe – I even prefered The Angel’s Cut to TVL).” (Bridget)

Sons for the return home / by Albert Wendt.
“My new favourite is already a classic – Sons for the Return Home, by Albert Wendt, which despite having two degrees in English I read for the first time only this year.  I like it for its vivid and bittersweet romance (I’m a sucker) and also the specificity of the largely Wellington / Victoria University setting. Although named locations are kept to a minimum in keeping with the book’s light touch, it’s easy to follow the characters as they move from Rankine Brown quad to the Mount Street Ceremony, drive out to Newtown and catch the cable car to Upland Road – the very same streets we tread!

Unlike Australia and Canada, New Zealand as a post-colonial country doesn’t have much city-specific literature, but Sons for the Return Home does something to address that. It never makes the city ‘home’, however, and a large part of the story is addressing the issue of where, with whom, immigrant communities and the Pasifica protagonist can be at home. I loved it. ” (Frith)

Six little New Zealanders / by Esther Glen ; illustrated by Els Noordhof.
“If I’m allowed to mention two – I also recommend the mostly-forgotten Black Boots and Button-hooks series and Six Little New Zealanders – childrens’ books written in the first half of the 20th Century and set in pioneer and colonial times. Black Boots and Buttonhooks is much like a New Zealand version of Little House on the prairie – based on the real childhood of the authors mother in the un-colonised King Country. It’s well worth a read!” (Frith)

Plumb / Maurice Gee.
“Changed my life” (Neil)

Further picks:

Syndetics book coverLonely margins of the sea / Shonagh Koea. (Joy)
Purple heart / by Andrew Fiu. (Magalie)
The foreign woman / Fiona Kidman. (Ada)
No left turn / Chris Trotter. (Tamadea)
The changeover : a supernatural romance / Margaret Mahy. (Tamadea)