I loved Australian writer Mireille Juchau‘s barely speculative novel The World Without Us. It’s an insightful portrayal of disturbance on many levels, and the workings of survival. It is wonderfully grounded, if that makes sense, full of palpable place and people, and so lush it highlights how sparse much contemporary writing (the stuff I come across anyway) is.
I decided to try and read all the writers coming to Writers Week as part of the NZ Festival next year. My hands down favourite pick so far is Nnedi Okorafor. I read both Who Fears Death and its prequel The Book of Phoenix. Both are vivid, splendid affairs melding existing and imagined dystopias.
At the Paekākāriki annual book fair I found two treasures from my childhood. You talk to practically any New Zealander my age and we were all petrified by a TV series whose name none of us can remember which had a girl trapped in a house surrounded by giant watching stones that were getting closer. The series was based on Marianne’s Dreams by Catherine Storr, which was my first find. Marianne is in bed sick and draws frightening pictures which come true. The second was Ruth Park‘s marvellous Playing Beatie Bow. A time slip novel set in Sydney. I don’t remember many friends knowing about it here but apparently when it was released in Australia in 1980 it was huge. I read this book multiple times as a child, and can now resume the practice.