University of Hawai’i Press
This is another of the Bookslut’s Full Frontal challenge reads, and a kind of personal challenge to myself. I have been guilty for a long time of a bit of a hating of New Zealand fiction – we have this thing called the cultural cringe, where New Zealanders (generally, anyway) used to be horribly embarrassed of anything that came out of here. Things have improved in a major way since I was little (in a far off, distant time known as “the Eighties”) but I guess as a nation, we’re still a little screwed up about it. I liken it to middle child syndrome – not that I know what I’m talking about in the slightest, of course, being an eldest child.
Anyway, enough pop psychology. Grace is a New Zealander, and is so local, that if I drive up the coast about an hour, I could probably go visit her if that wouldn’t be weird or creepy. Which it would. So I won’t be doing that any time soon. The story isn’t really regionally grounded, but is definitely a story based in New Zealand. It’s incredibly good; human, interesting, seemingly personal but not too horribly (i.e, obviously) autobiographical. However, I do wonder how much someone who isn’t very familiar with the politics of race in New Zealand would get from it. I mean, obviously, it’s not that hard to fathom out – I mean, this book did win the Neustadt International prize in 2008. Read the rest of this entry