Book awards are always a good place to start of course and being a bit of a crime buff I started with the latest Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. This year’s winner, Blood men by Paul Cleave, looks like a starter to me.
Then I moved on to the New Zealand Post Book Award for fiction. The Hut Builder by Laurence Fearnley won the Fiction prize in 2011. This author is entirely new to me. The book is described in the Sunday Star- Times reviewer as having “enormous integrity, is beautifully written and quietly proud of its Southern roots”. Sounds interesting. The New Zealand Book Council site described an earlier novel as ‘exquisitely realised… exact, sparing, lovely’
Taking a look in the new BiblioCommons catalogue, I found a lists on topics from New Zealand crime novels to New Zealand historical fiction (many new authors). The great Kiwi novel list introduced me to an earlier novel by Fearnley and a fantasy novel set in Christchurch.
There were also some hidden gems. A search for the Auckland Readers & Writers Festival in our blog led me to an interview with Vincent Ward mentioning his book The Past Awaits – not fiction but I thought it looked interesting. I also picked up a reference to Christchurch writer Tusiata Avia. Another entirely new author to follow up.
NZ on screen also opened up a new approach with its New Zealand Book Month Collection which allowed me to view a 1996 documentary on Hone Tuwhare and a selection of films based on New Zealand books, including State of Siege, a Vincent Ward adaptation of one of Janet Frame’s novels.
All together I thought it a pretty useful experience and I’ll know where to go next time I need to branch out.