This year’s Auckland Writer’s Festival brought some of the brightest and best creatives of both local and international literary scenes to our country. Over the course of last week, a diverse range of talents spoke of their works and their craft, and turned our attention to the books that everybody should be reading. From home-grown poetry collections brimming with dazzling imagery, to books that sharpen our worldview to focus on the pressing matters of our times, here are four of the most exciting reads that featured in the festival for you to add to your to-be-read pile this coming winter.
1. Poūkahangatus – Tayi Tibble
Tayi Tibble’s (Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Porou) first collection of verse is a remarkable work utterly deserving of every accolade. In Poūkahangatus (Winner of the Best First Book Award for Poetry at the New Zealand Book Awards), Tibble engages in a kind of poetic cartography that captures not just the lie of the land but a Māori wāhine’s experience of it. Hinemoana Baker described it as a collection that “dives through noir, whakamā and kitsch and emerges dripping with colour and liquor”. So captivating and contemporary that even fashion retailers are selling it, this is a collection you’ll definitely want to read before the year is out.
2. Because A Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean – Sugar Magnolia Wilson
Over the past few years, Sugar Magnolia Wilson’s poems have been blooming in the pages of numerous literary journals including Turbine, Landfall, and Sport. Hers is a name I’ve always gotten a quiet thrill seeing because reading her work is always so eye-opening and unsettling – her poems have an uncanny way of getting inside my head and reframing the way I feel and see the world. Magnolia Wilson’s first full-length collection Because A Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean is now out in the world for everyone to pore over. Pip Adam described it as work that “punches holes into a parallel universe which explains ourselves back to us… an exceptional and uplifting collection which is a joy to read.” Two birds, one stone - fill your life with more joy and poetry by reading this remarkable collection.
3. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist – Kate Raworth
In her ambitious work Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist (longlisted for the 2017 Financial Times McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award), Kate Raworth pulls environmental priorities to the forefront of economic debate. Hers is a vision, a call to arms, for us all to embrace a different way of thinking about the economy, of reframing and restructuring it in such a way that it can better serve our planet. In this era of snowballing income inequality and huge environmental strain, these are important conversations to be had. If you missed out on hearing the author discuss key arguments of her thesis with Rod Oram during the Auckland Writer’s Festival last week, get your hands on a copy of the book. And listen to her speak with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ while you wait for it to arrive.
4. Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie
British-Pakistani writer Kamil Shamsie’s seventh novel Home Fire (winner of the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction) is a powerful retelling of the Sophocles play Antigone set in the age of ISIS. Described as “urgent and explosive” (NPR) and a “gleaming machine” (The New York Times), this novel ventures into new imaginative territories with bravery and intellect. Experience the collision of the personal and political for yourself and follow the story of British Muslim woman Aneeka as she grapples with the consequences of her brother Parvaiz’ decision to join the media arm of ISIS after learning about the death of their Jihadist father.Support Villainesse