Three literary powerhouses of Aotearoa letters come together to reflect on the books that shaped them. What stories still ignite the fires of interest? Which of their own books return to their minds? How deeply do the books of others impact the work of a writer? Join Patricia Grace, Dame Fiona Kidman and Renée for an hour as they discuss and discover the books that keep curiosity alive, with host, Michaela Keeble.
Ko ngā Pukapuka Tāwhiri tēnei. Ehara I te mea e kōrero ana mō te atua mō Tāwhiri-Mātea, kahore. Ko te tāwhiriwhiri tētehi kupu mō te pōwhiri, ā koia tēnei, ko ngā pukapuka ō mua e pōwhiri tonu ana ki a koe kia haere mai.
Looking for a book that features in this event? Check out the Unity Books website for:
From the Centre: A Writer’s Life – Patricia Grace
These Two Hands – Renée
All the Way to Summer – Fiona Kidman
Colouring My Soul - Kat Maxwell
Wild Card - Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
Aoteaora / New Zealand
Patricia Grace is one of New Zealand’s most prominent and celebrated Maori fiction authors and a figurehead of modern New Zealand literature. She garnered initial acclaim in the 1970s with her collection of short stories entitled Waiariki (1975) — the first published book by a Maori woman in New Zealand. She has published six novels and seven short story collections, as well as a number of books for children and a work of non-fiction. She won the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction for Potiki in 1987, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2001 with Dogside Story, which also won the 2001 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Fiction Prize. Her children’s story The Kuia and the Spider won the New Zealand Picture Book of the Year in 1982.
Dame Fiona Kidman
Aotearoa / New Zealand
Fiona Kidman has published over 30 books, including novels, poetry, non-fiction and a play. She has worked as a librarian, radio producer and critic, and as a scriptwriter for radio, television and film. The New Zealand Listener wrote: ‘In her craft and her storytelling and in her compassionate gutsy tough expression of female experience, she is the best we have.’
She has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships; in more recent years, The Captive Wife was runner-up for the Deutz Medal for Fiction and was joint-winner of the Readers’ Choice Award in the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and her short story collection The Trouble with Fire was shortlisted for both the NZ Post Book Awards and the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award. Her novel This Mortal Boy 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 Crime Writing Award for Best Novel.
She was created a Dame (DNZM) in 1998 in recognition of her contribution to literature, and more recently a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour. ‘We cannot talk about writing in New Zealand without acknowledging her,’ wrote New Zealand Books. ‘Kidman’s accessible prose and the way she shows (mainly) women grappling to escape from restricting social pressures has guaranteed her a permanent place in our fiction.’
Aotearoa / New Zealand
Renée is a rangatira of Aotearoa literature. She has been awarded an ONZM for services to literature and drama, the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement, the Playmarket Award for a significant artistic contribution to theatre, and Ngā Tohu ā Tā Kingi Ihaka for a lifetime contribution to toi Māori.
Born in 1929, with a whakapapa that is Ngāti Kahungunu, Scots and Cape Verdean, Renée left school at twelve. At fifty she started writing plays, novels and poetry, with Wednesday To Come her most loved work. In 2017 she published her memoir, These Two Hands, and in 2019, her first crime novel The Wild Card, a Ngaio Marsh Awards finalist.
Renée has described herself as ‘a lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals’ and her writing puts women centre stage. She lives in Ōtaki, writing and teaching.
Aotearoa / New Zealand
Michaela Keeble is a white Australian writer living in Aotearoa with her partner and kids. Her poetry chapbook intertidal was published by Anemone Press in early 2021 and a children’s book, co-authored with her son Kerehi Grace and illustrated by Tokerau Wilson, is forthcoming from Gecko Press in 2022. Watch out for Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai. Michaela's poetry and short fiction have been published and anthologised widely, including in Intimate Relations: Communicating in the Anthropocene (Lexington Press, 2021).