Archive for the ‘New Zealand Literature’ Category

After reading Australian crime fiction last month, I thought that I’ll read Australian literature for the whole of April and maybe in May too. I also thought I’ll sneak in an NZ book or two (Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand). While getting started, I made a whole reading list. This is what is there in it.

(1) Two novels by Shirley HazzardThe Transit of Venus and The Great Fire – I’ve always wanted to read a Shirley Hazzard book. She loved reading and was a great romantic and was married to the Flaubert scholar Francis Steigmuller. Shirley and Francis used to read books together, taking turns while reading aloud. They did it till the last day before Francis died – they read Antony and Cleopatra on the last day. When I think of that, it gives me goosebumps, it brings tears to my eyes. I can’t wait to read her own books and find out how they are.

(2) A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz – This was Toltz’ first novel and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I’m nearly one-third in and it is hilarious and amazing with lots of dark humour.

(3) Two novels by Peter CareyOscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey is a two-time Booker Prize winner, which is an exclusive club because it has just four members (the others are J.M.Coetzee, Hilary Mantel and Margaret Atwood), and both these books won that prize. Oscar and Lucinda is about a woman and a priest who fall in love with each other and it looks suspiciously like Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, which is Australia’s most famous love story. I want to find out whether Carey just copycatted that or shaped that story into something different. True History of the Kelly Gang is about Australia’s outlaw folk hero, Ned Kelly.

(4) Two novels by Tim WintonThe Riders and Dirt Music – Tim Winton is a four time winner of the Miles Franklin award (Australia’s leading literary award) I think, and I’ve wanted to explore his works for a long time.

(5) Keith Miller : The Life of a Great All-Rounder by Roland Perry – I’ve always wanted to sneak in a cricket book into a reading challenge and what better time to do that 😊 Keith Miller was one of the greatest cricketers to have ever played for Australia and during his prime he was adored by both young men and women (see how incredibly handsome he is in the picture). He was one of my sporting heroes when I was a kid, though he had long retired before I was born. Australia is one of the great sporting nations, not just in terms of sporting achievement or Olympic medals, but because of the pure love that Australians have for sport. It is one of the few countries where women go out to the field during the weekend and play sport for fun, and it is a common sight to see whole families out in the park during the weekend playing cricket or Aussie football or another sport. While it has become a fad today across the world to run and participate in running competitions, it was never that way in Australia. In Australia, playing and enjoying sport, was part of the culture, it was part of the Australian spirit, and it is something that the rest of us can learn from. What better way to celebrate the great Australian sporting spirit and celebrate my favourite team sport, than reading the biography of one of the greatest cricketers to grace the cricketing field.

(6) The Bone People by Keri Hulme – When Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries won the Booker Prize, the biggest question on everyone’s mind was who was the last New Zealander to win the Booker Prize. The answer to that question was Keri Hulme. This book of hers won the Booker Prize in 1985. Keri Hulme was virtually unknown before that. She continues to be unknown since. Which is a shame. Because this book looks wonderful. The main characters in the book seem to be native Maori New Zealanders, and this book deserves to be more well known.

(7) A Short History of the World by Geoffrey Blainey – This was probably the first Australian book that I’ve ever read. Geoffrey Blainey is one of Australia’s pre-eminent historians and his book on Australian history ‘The Tyranny of Distance’ is a classic. I couldn’t get that but I got this. I read this one years back and it is one of my favourite one-volume history books. Hoping to read it again soon.

Books not in the picture (mostly in the Kindle)

(8) True Country by Kim Scott – Kim Scott is a native / indigenous Australian. I’ve never read a book by a native / indigenous Australian writer before. This is a highly recommended book and I’m looking forward to reading it.

(9) The Family Doctor by Debra Oswald – This is a crime novel which tackles contemporary issues and it came highly recommended. Can’t wait to read it.

(10) The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough – Australia’s most famous love story. I want to read this first before reading Peter Carey’s book.

(11) A History of Victoria by Geoffrey Blainey – More Geoffrey Blainey is always good 😊

(12) The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay – Bryce Courtenay worked as an advertising professional for years, before he became a novelist. This was his first and his most famous novel. Courtenay had South African roots and this story is set in South Africa. It is about boxing. One of my friends tells me that it is one of her all-time favourite books. Hoping to read it soon.

Do you like ANZ literature? Which are your favourite ANZ books?


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