Courage Day 2018

“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”

-Henry Lois Gates Jr.

Courage Day is celebrated on the 15th November. When I initially saw ‘Courage Day’ on the list of impending key dates, the first thing to pop in my head was the scene from the Return of the King where Sam heaves Frodo up on to his shoulders and staggers up the slopes of Mount Doom towards the exploding crater. Great. Literature is full of courageous deeds. But turns out, Courage Day is really a celebration of courage displayed by those on the other end of the pen – writers who defend the human right to free speech – as well as those who are oppressed, killed or imprisoned for their work. Writing can be a dangerous business indeed.

In fact, Courage Day is the New Zealand term for what is known globally as the ‘International Day of the Imprisoned Writer.’ The New Zealand Society of Authors, which is affiliated to PEN, named the event jointly after James Courage and his grandmother Sarah Courage. Read more about the history of Courage Day on our website. Courage Day is held on the 15th November each year, as has been the case since 1981.

CoverYou can read Sarah Courage’s book: Lights and Shadows of Colonial Life.

Whilst many throughout history have turned to writing to express their views (however outrageous), Courage Day honours writers who have been outspoken about social or human rights issues and in doing so have placed their own personal safety or freedom at great risk. Courage Day encourages us to consider the politics surrounding freedom of speech and expression.

Contentious hot topics indeed.

History and current events show us that not all governments support free speech, and across time there have been some hiccups. When we read books by authors who have been penalised for their words, our world is expanded as we become aware of issues, and even atrocities, that we might not otherwise have fully realised. This would not be possible were it not for the fortitude of a very few who would risk their livelihood.

So here is a short list of books and the authors behind them who have been persecuted for expressing their views. Some have been imprisoned, forced into labour, or expelled from their countries and a lucky few have simply had their books burned.

Books by Persecuted Writers

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Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago contained criticisms of the Bolshevik party. For this he was threatened with expulsion from the USSR. Due to this unfortunate threat, he turned down a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958.

The Satanic Verses resulted in a fatwa (ruling) being issued against Rushdie for “insulting Islam.” In a horrifying twist, the following occurred. Several bookshops in the UK stocking his book were firebombed; his Japanese translator was assassinated; his Italian translator stabbed (escaped, with injury) and his Norwegian publisher shot (survived, injured). An alarming display of extremism.

Mikhail’s anti-war sentiments manifested in her journalism, poetry, and in her book ‘Diary of a Wave,’ all of which were banned in Iraq. She was warned by authorities that her life would be at risk should she continue publishing anti-war messages, and so she fled Iraq, claiming asylum in the US. The Beekeeper of Sinjar is her latest offering about endurance and hope against the backdrop of ISIS extremism. No doubt the authorities would disapprove.

J.M. Coetzee is a South African author and Nobel laureate whose novels contain anti-apartheid sentiments. His novel In the Heart of the Country was consequently banned in apartheid South Africa.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in 1962 for conspiring to overthrow South Africa’s apartheid government. His book Conversations With Myself contains notes and diary entries from his subsequent 27 year stint in prison.

Wild Swans by Jung Chang has been banned in China since its publication in 1991. It details life under the rule of Mao’s Communist party.

Oscar Wilde was imprisoned in the 1890s, after evidence of his homosexuality was brought before the courts. His poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol was written about his experience of prison.

Banned Books

“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.”

Oscar Wilde

What exactly are we afraid of? The books that a country decides to ban are less a reflection on the author than on the system or society which banishes them.

Censorship is another contentious issue, and over time many books have been banned for a wealth of reasons. This has happened in New Zealand too. It could be that they challenged the moral or political ideologies of the time, or were considered too outrageous or offensive for public consumption.

Personally, discovering that a book is part of a banned books list merely increases my determination to get my hands on a copy. Like when my parents tried to stop me from reading scary books as a kid. Ha, cause that worked…

Here are some previously banned or restricted books that are now available to borrow at Christchurch City Libraries.

See more banned books on our catalogue.

Podcast – DANCEability

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

Join Rodney Bell (internationally-renowned wheelchair dancer and founding member of Touch Compass), Lyn Cotton (Founder and Artistic Director of Jolt Dance Company) and Jo Casey (Regional Programmes Coordinator (Christchurch) at StarJam) in a beautiful and uplifting discussion on the benefits of dance and performance for people perceived as having disabilities.

Part I: Why do you do what you do?
Part II: The benefits of dance – health and wellbeing, social, identity
Part III: The benefits of performance for dancers and audience – visibility, confidence, self-worth; performance as a human right
Part IV: What would you like to see happen in NZ in terms of dance and disability?

Transcript – DANCEability

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An Evening with Lee Child – Friday 23 November, 7pm – WORD Christchurch

CoverLee Child has just released his 23rd Jack Reacher book – Past Tense – and I can hardly wait to get my hands on it. The only thing that could possibly be better, is attending ‘An Evening with Lee Child’ – but you also won’t be surprised to hear that this WORD Christchurch event is already sold out. With a drawcard like bestselling author Lee Child having a chat with local author Paul Cleave – it’s no wonder! There was much seat bouncing and skiting to anyone who would listen when I heard that I would be going to see the creator of the Jack Reacher series in the flesh. It is almost like being in the same room as the great man himself – and who wouldn’t want to be up close and personal with someone like Jack?

Lee Child is one of an elite group of authors of whose work I have read in its entirety – and eagerly anticipate his next offering. This doesn’t sound like too big of a deal, I agree; but I am actually one of those librarians who don’t read many books. Blame the alluring pull of technology, being time-poor and feeling like it is taking my work home with me. But for another tale about Jack, I will always make an exception.

With 23 books under his belt and more than 40 short story anthologies, Lee Child has been giving his imagination and typing skills a serious work out over the last 21 years. His books have been bestsellers and he’s sold well over 100 million of them all over the world. From a librarian’s point of view I can honestly say that they are rarely back in the library long enough to actually get shelved.

Now I can see how this is a wee bit like teasing you all given that the event is actually sold out – but don’t despair. You can put your name on the waitlist according to the WORD Christchurch website – so you might be in with a chance! I on the other hand will be there with bells on and will let you know what you missed from the comfort of your lounge room – so watch this space!

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Cool stuff from the selectors: an eclectic mix

9780847862993I have always enjoyed Oliver Jeffers’ picture books, they are clever and a joy to read aloud which is vitally important if it becomes your child’s favourite and needs to be read over and over again! The illustrations however have always been what has really attracted me. They are obviously drawn for children but there is a quirkiness and sophistication that makes them incredibly appealing to adults as well. It wasn’t until I read Oliver Jeffers : the working mind & drawing hand that I realised why his books are so wonderful as he is first and foremost an artist with a distinctive use of words and handwriting. As Bono of U2 fame (with whom Jeffers has collaborated) states “the handwriting is his thumbprint, his genetic code”.

Jeffers was born in Ireland in 1977 and describes his early life as requiring to grow a thick skin and a quick mind:

I learned to talk my way out of trouble and to charm myself into it. I learned early on that I also had an additional arrow to my quiver: I could draw well. This came in quite handy for getting out of class so I could help decorate the set for the school play. It also came in more handy when the hard men of the school I went to wanted me to draw on their schoolbags and skateboards, and thus I fell under their protection.

Thankfully Jeffers survived school and has gone on to produce wonderful children’s books and now a beautifully illustrated book of his life and painting.

Another superb illustrator is Shaun Tan. His most well-known book The Arrival was 9781760523534written for young adults and is a wordless story illustrating the alienation of migration and immigration.  Sketches from a Nameless Land describes the inspiration and creativity behind this remarkable story.

His latest book, Tales From the Inner City is written for children, but this is no easy read, it is challenging, thoughtful, and complemented by Tan’s distinctive illustrations.

World-renowned artist Shaun Tan applies his unique imagination to a reflection on the nature of humans and animals, and our urban coexistence. From crocodile to frog, tiger to bee, this is a dark and surreal exploration of the perennial love and destruction we feel and inflict; of how animals can save us, and how our lives are forever entwined, for better or for worse.

On a completely different topic…I was watching Project Runway last night (a guilty pleasure) and I was interested to hear one of the judges saying that modesty is now a fashion trend. Long sleeves, high necks, limited exposure of skin could be seen as a relief for many.

I was therefore intrigued to pick up a book by a young Muslim woman Dina Torkia called Modestly. This is a book that is hard to define, part biography, (she has an Egyptian father and English mother) part beauty guide, but also a book about modesty in Muslim culture, the decision to wear the hijab, social media and the pressures of being young and different. Dina Torkia is a very interesting young woman, her fashion sense is eclectic and beautifully put together, but it is her committment to her beliefs, and her obvious enjoyment (and at times frustration) with the fashion industry that makes her story so compelling.

 

I’m possessed by Joe Hill

Cover of Heart shaped boxHeart Shaped Box by Joe Hill has been republished in a 10th anniversary edition.

You’d expect someone who grew up inhaling Stephen King stories to emulate him. Millions of us grew up reading King and elements of his stories are part of the soundtracks of our lives.

The same can be said of Joe Hill, aka Joseph King (son of Stephen). While very much writing in his own voice, you can tell some of those stories have rubbed off on him, too.

The character of Craddock, the man haunting the Dead Man’s Suit, reminds me of the terrifying Gypsy from Thinner, or the unearthly proprietor from Needful Things. Somehow Hill read my mind and his character fits my imagined embodiment of these two haunting characters.

Judas Coyne is the epitome of a gothic rock star. Some would think of Marilyn Manson, but I can see Alice Cooper in him. His journey along the ‘night road’ is one of self-realisation, his sexploitation of female fans redeemed by his love of dogs.

Hill shares his father’s feel for music – slipping lyrics into the text of this story, just like in IT and The Body (filmed as Stand by me), as a couple of examples.

Vehicles are prominent in Hill’s stories too – this one features a Mustang and a scary old pick-up with glaring headlights. Anyone remember Christine?

Hill’s stories carry his own strong sense of humour, suspense and irony, while gripping you in the headlights of his very chilling tales.

“…acid. I had a good memory once. I was in the chess club at junior high.”

“You were? That’s a hell of a thought.”

“What? The idea that I was in the chess club?”

“I guess. It seems so…geeky.”

“Yeah. But I used severed fingers for pieces.”

I read Heart Shaped Box in four days. That’s the best praise I can ever give. Hill’s writing style wasn’t ‘easy’ – it was gripping and exciting. This book possessed me until I had found out what would happen to Judas Coyne and Georgia/Marybeth.

Let this story haunt you. And yes the title was influenced by Nirvana.

“Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ is, it seems to me, a song by a man who felt trapped by his own fame, increasingly frantic to escape the prison cell of being loved.”

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Cover of The firemanThe Fireman

If you’re a Twin Peaks fan, you’ll pronounce this “fear man”, lol.

The Fireman is a good example of Hill’s versatility – it’s very different from the ghost story above.

This is an apocalypse story, along the lines of The Stand. In this book the spore, ‘dragonscale’, is the main protagonist.

Dragonscale presents as a black tattoo with highlights of fire, the victim eventually combusting, taking all that surrounds with them.

Disease was a favourite theme of one of the masters of horror, Edgar Allen Poe.

I’m not sure which is more disturbing; the spontaneous combustion, or Hill’s obsession with Mary Poppins. The character of Harper plays Mary to the Fireman’s Dick Van Dyke.

The plot of The Fireman becomes a compelling race for survival: will Harper live to give birth to her baby? Will she be terminated by the Combustion Squads, bent on cleansing the population from the scourge? Or will her husband get to her first, to make her fulfill their suicide pact?

Cover of Locke & KeyLocke & Key

Hill is perhaps best known for his early graphic novels, the Locke and Key series.

Set in New England, these stories focus on the Locke family, who can open doors between worlds. Locke and Key are great stories, beautifully rendered by artist Gabriel Rodriguez.

I’m hooked. I’m going to read NOS4R2 next.

Cover of NOS - 4R2NOS-4R2

NOS-4R2, a clever title, crosses between worlds in a classic car (this time a Silver Wraith); it’s driver, Charles Manx, a serial killer full of evil intent to abduct and corrupt children. One child, Victoria McQueen, survives, gaining supernormal powers from her encounter. Charles has never forgotten the one that got away…

It’s such a relief to know that when Stephen King passes through the door to the next world, this one is in Joe Hills’ hands.

Podcast – Indian communities in New Zealand

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

Guests Rakesh Naidoo (Strategic Advisor Race Relations at the Human Rights Commission), Archna Tandon, and Jane Buckingham (University of Canterbury historian) discuss Indian migration to and settlement in New Zealand across the centuries.

Part I: History of Indian migration to and settlement in Aotearoa, including changes to immigration policy and its effects; key drivers for Indian migration; Indian international students

Part II: Being ‘Indian’ in New Zealand vs being ‘Punjabi’ etc in India; navigating multiple identities in multiple contexts

Part III: Factors that can enable and hinder successful settlement

Transcript – Indian communities in NZ

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Raj days downunder Cover of India in New Zealand Local Identities, Global Relations Cover of Indian Settlers The Story of A New Zealand South Asian Community Cover of Sari: Indian women at work in New Zealand Cover of Indians and the Antipodes: Networks, Boundaries and Circulation Cover of Indian inkCover of Chasing rainbows

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

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Overdrive Libby for travelling families 方便旅行家庭的电子书

旅行的季节又到了!很多华人朋友都利用孩子假期、圣诞节和春节回国探亲或出国旅游。有时在图书馆遇到华人顾客因出国前忘记还书需交超期罚款很是同情。自己也曾在回国时为找孩子的英文阅读材料煞费苦心。其实,这些问题都可以用图书馆的电子资源eResources 解决。OverDrive Libby尤其适合在外旅行的家庭,因为每一家庭成员都能从中找到所需要的资源。

OverDrive Libby 基本信息

OverDrive是世界领先的电子阅读平台,为超过70个国家的图书馆和学校提供电子书、电子有声书和其它多媒体资源。基督城图书馆的Overdrive拥有几千小说类和非小说电子书和电子有声书。有基督城图书馆借书证的顾客可免费借阅。您可在任何时间借阅和预定各十本书,下载后线下阅读。使用OverDrive Libby最大的优点是您可将下载到电子设备的书随身携带到任何地方,所借阅的书到期会自动归还,不用担心超期罚款。

下载Libby插件

Libby是OverDrive新开发的插件,可下载到手机(iPhone 和Android)、电脑、iPad、平板电脑tablet和除Kindle以外的电子阅读器eReader。下载步骤如下:

  1. 用您的设备在谷歌Google上查找Christchurch City Libraries,进入网站主页在,在主菜单上找到eResources。
  2. 点击Featured标题下的Overdrive eAudio & eBooks,进入OverDrive说明网页。滚动到下方,在App Information标题下,根据您使用的设备点击Libby—Apple App Store(苹果设备),Libby—Google play(安卓Android设备),或点击Meet Libby 图标(见下图标)进入Libby插件安装网站在App Store, Google play 和Microsoft中选择点击与您的设备相关的图标进入新网页。
  3. 在新的网页上点击install,下载安装Libby插件。安装完成后,您会在您的设备上看到Libby的图标。
  4. 双击您设备上的Libby图标打开Libby插件,用借书证号和密码注册您的账号。注册完毕方可进入Libby阅读平台借书。

Libby 电子书阅读平台

所有准备工作完成后,您将进入Libby电子阅读平台选择并借阅您心意的作品。有大量适合成年人阅读的电子英文书,其中的旅行指南类书籍是旅行的好帮手。希望读中文书的顾客可点击页面左上端collection图标旁的下拉箭头,在eBook标题下找到并点击Chinese eBooks链接进入中文书网页。您可以同样方式浏览青少年电子书 和儿童电子书(包括少量中文儿童读物)。

您如果在使用中遇到任何问题可到各图书馆获得帮助。祝大家旅行季节愉快!带着“掌上图书馆”读万卷书,行万里路。

Hong Wang
Network Library Assistant

Dystopian fiction – along with a good dose of feminism

CoverI read The Handmaid’s Tale a long time ago, but could only stomach the first season on the box.  Maybe it feels a bit more real or even possible, or perhaps the dramatisation was all a bit much, but I just couldn’t cope with more terror or the gruesome relentless treatment of the women.

Dystopian fiction has always had a following, the stories are gripping and usually paint a vivid picture of a life in the margins. The Handmaid’s tale has been the most well-known book with a feminist perspective, but P.D. James wrote a book called The Children of Men in 1992 which was about a world with plummeting birthrates –  no children and no future, and The Parable of the Sower was written by Octavia Butler in 1993 and set in 2025 when communities have to protect themselves from marauding scavengers and roaming bands of ‘Paints’, people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape and murder.

In recent years a good deal more titles have been published and range from women coping with climate change, war, isolation and issues around fertility. A bit of a “trend” perhaps, but one that more and more seems to have the fiction set in reality.

Read more: The remarkable rise of the feminist dystopia The Atlantic Weekly

Check out my BiblioCommons list of Dystopian feminist fiction.

9780571342211  9780446675505  9780440000785  9780316434812  9781472241702  9780451493583  9781472153364  9781911215950

 

Sydenham Borough formed, 1877

We take it for granted now, but it’s really not that long that Christchurch has had a city council that covered the whole city – only since 1989.

Before that was not only the Christchurch City Council (established in 1862) but also the Waimairi, Paparua, Halswell, and Heathcote County Councils, the Riccarton Borough Council,  and the  Christchurch Drainage and Transport Boards. Phew!

( The Banks Peninsula District Council joined Christchurch City Council later on, in 2005)

The Sydenham municipal building [1903] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 7, IMG0020
And that doesn’t even take into account other councils that had existed prior to that – one of which was the Sydenham Borough Council whose first meeting was held this day in 1877. At the time the population of the borough was between 5-6,000, which grew to around 12,000 by the turn of the century.  According to  The Cyclopedia of New Zealand by 1902 Sydenham had 26 miles of streets, 95 gas lamps for street lighting with 2009 ratepayers. Businesses included butchers, bootmakers, bakers and builders!

But the Borough was not to be long-lived: in early 1903 polls were held in Linwood and St. Albans as well Sydenham to vote on joining Christchurch City Council to make a Greater Christchurch. In Sydenham 939 voted in favour of amalgamation, 421 against, giving a 518 majority vote  in favour.  The first elections for the Greater Christchurch City Council were held on 29 April 1903, but it seems that voters weren’t particularly excited by the whole exercise, as the turnout was less than 50%.

Find out more

 

 

Tāngata Ngāi Tahu – WORD Christchurch 2018

Tāngata Ngāi TahuTāngata Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu. Volume One is a new book celebrating the rich and diverse lives of fifty people of Ngāi Tahu. It was published by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Bridget Williams Books in late 2017, and released to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement.

This WORD session was hosted by David Higgins, Upoko of Moeraki Rūnanga, with kōrero by the book’s editors Helen Brown (Ngāi Tahu) and Takerei Norton (Ngāi Tahu), and by book contributors Robyn Walsh (Ngāi Tahu) and Mike Stevens (Ngāi Tahu).

The book emerged from the work of the Ngāi Tahu Archives team on Kā Huru Manu, the amazing Ngāi Tahu digital atlas. While collecting and recording places names around Te Waipounamu, the research team realised they were also discovering the names and stories of people who were the very heart of Ngāi Tahu whakapapa. This book is intended to be the first of a series born out of the work of the atlas, and a second volume is already in process.

The individual biographies in Tāngata Ngāi Tahu cover 200 years of Ngāi Tahu whānau history, producing a ‘tribal family album’ of stories and images. Editor Helen Brown talked about how among the stories of the ordinary, often household names in te iwi, have been revealed the extraordinary lives of so many Ngāi Tahu people.

The book has been arranged by person/name, which Helen said gives a more nuanced history than a book based on themes or a more traditional history book arrangement, perhaps in alphabetical or chronological order. The order of the book does invoke a back-and-forth journey across time, with people from the 1800s to more recent times spread at random throughout the book. The effect embraces serendipity, with a mix of stunning, historical black-and-white photographs between more modern colour images drawing the reader into the rich history within.

Each biography had a limit of 1000 words, and editing to this limit Helen described as often excruciating. “Whole books are needed,” she said. Perhaps for individual whānau this book will plant the seed to pick up the stories and expand on them for their own tīpuna?

The biographies have been written by a team of writers, whose writing experience in this context Helen described as ranging from gathering the purely anecdotal to more academic pursuits. We were lucky to have some of the writers present in the team of speakers at the WORD event, and each speaker featured an individual from the book, giving the audience a summary of their whakapapa and life.

Robyn Walsh talked about her mother Dorothy Te Mahana Walsh of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu decent, a leader heavily involved in the ‘hui hopping’ during the Waitangi Tribunal Hearings and a keen performer who travelled to San Francisco supporting the Te Māori exhibition. Robyn concluded “we need and must remember these histories and people.”

Others spoken about on the day were Amiria Puhirere – a stunning figure standing in her full-length korowai in the photo on page 86, she was a prominent leader and renowned weaver who lived at Ōnukū on the Akaroa Harbour; Trevor Hapi Howse – a major part of the research team that led the long work for Ngāi Tahu Te Kerēme/the Ngāi Tahu Waitangi Claim and a key figure in the Kā Huru Manu project; and William Te Paro Spencer – a seafaring kaumātua and muttonbirder, described as “proudly and strongly Ngāi Tahu” and “very much a Bluff local but wordly with it”.

As mentioned above, one of the strong features of the book are the photographs, many of which are from iwi archives and other private collections, and often have not been published or displayed outside the embrace of whānau before. It is clear that it is something special these photos are being shared not only with iwi whānui but with the whole country, and such a personal act of whakawhanaungatanga is to be valued and cherished.

Although the prime audience for the book is Ngāi Tahu tāngata there has been huge interest in it since media company The Spinoff published an article about Mere Harper, who helped setup the Plunket organisation. The audience has since become national and international, with a strong focus on the book’s contribution to the historical narrative of Aotearoa.

Read a book review of Tāngata Ngāi Tahu.