Listening to Reni Eddo-Lodge

This is a slightly odd blog. I don’t know a huge amount about Reni Eddo-Lodge, and because of the way her session at the upcoming WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View series at the Christchurch Arts Festival is titled, I want to go into it with as open a mind as possible and without too many preconceptions. Additionally, I’m a few places down the holds list for her book so won’t get to see it before I see her.

Reni Eddo-Lodge

However, I can tell you about why I want to listen to her. I vaguely saw the title of her book and WORD session, Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race, on Twitter and then came across a book review in The Guardian and the concept piqued my interest. I’ve been reading quite a lot about diversity, racism and colonialism and also getting my head around intersectionality, so when I saw that Reni was coming to Christchurch I jumped at the opportunity to listen to her. I want to leave my white privilege at the door and make the most of a chance to gain insight into someone else’s perspective.

In this day and age, listening may be one of our most valuable tools.


Close your eyes – Michael Robotham is coming to Christchurch

Cover of Close your eyesChristchurch crime fiction fans are in for a treat when Michael Robotham, one of the best crime writers working, visits on Wednesday 26 AugustHe’s coming to Christchurch with his latest book, Close Your Eyes, but he’s got an impressive back list. His books Shatter and Lost won the Ned Kelly Award for Australia’s Crime Novel of the Year – good old Australia – a Crime Novel Award named after a criminal.

Shatter and The Night Ferry were shortlisted for the Crime Writer’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award; Say You’re Sorry and Life and Death made it to the shortlist for the Crime Writer’s Golden Dagger Award. We’ll have to wait until September to see if Life and Death wins.

I always like a crime writer who started as a journalist. Even better if they started as a cadet rather than doing a post-graduate degree in Journalism (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s just that writers who have had to distill the facts of a story into a small space jostling with lots of other stories know how to grab your interest. And I fondly imagine cadets learning their craft by having their copy scrutinised by cynical hard-bitten reporters squinting through the smoke from the fag permanently attached to their lips. Probably an image that was way out of date when Michael Robotham was working on evening newspapers. If it was ever true. Perhaps I’ll ask him when he comes to Christchurch. I also have a question about going to school in Gungadai.

Event details

An evening with Michael Robotham
Wednesday 26 August 6pm to 7.30pm
South Library
Free event, complimentary tickets can be picked up from South Library or Paper Plus Northlands Mall. Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Paper Plus. For more info or to reserve tickets please call Kathryn Hartley Ph: 03 941 6649 or

Michael Robotham: ghosting and crime Michael on Saturday Morning with Kim Hill, Radio New Zealand National, 15 August.

Hear Graham Beattie’s review of Close your eyes on Nine to Noon, Radio New Zealand National, 12 August.

Cover of Life or Death Cover of Watching you Cover of Say you're sorry Cover of Bombproof Cover of Lost

Bumper March for Christchurch

March is shaping up to be a bumper month for author visits to Christchurch.

This evening (Wednesday 3rd March) Xinran, of  The Good Women of China fame, will be speaking at Christchurch Girls’ High School about her new book Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love which deals with the poignant experiences of Chinese women who were forced to give up their daughters through adoption or abandonment.

Next Monday, 8 March, is the turn of Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian, a novel which, according to Wikipedia, has the distinction of having been the first debut novel to enter the prestigious New York Times bestseller list at number one.  She will be promoting her latest offering, The Swan Thieves, a novel set in the world of Impressionist art, in an interesting departure from her previous work which took as its inspiration the life of Vlad the Impaler (the medieval prince who became famous as the fictional Count Dracula).

The Greatest Show on EarthThen on Thursday 11 March, The Press presents a Literary Liaison evening with Richard Dawkins, the prominent evolutionary biologist and author of the bestseller The God Delusion.  His new book outlining the evidence in favour of evolution is titled The Greatest Show on Earth and promises to be similarly successful, if the 29 outstanding holds by Christchurch City Libraries customers are any indication.

The Long SongLast, but certainly not least, Andrea Levy, winner of the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction for her novel Small Island, will speak at Our City O-Tautahi on Tuesday 25 March. Her latest book, entitled The Long Song, deals with 19th century Jamaica, in the years before and after the end of slavery.

If you are interested in attending talks by visiting authors, keep an eye on the following:

And if you want to read more about the authors and books  mentioned above, don’t forget the vast selection of resources in our  Books, Literature and Reading section.

Jamie and Claire again!

Diana Gabaldon created quite a stir in the 1990s with the publication of the first volumes of the Outlander series, which blended time travel, historical fiction and romance – so much so that what had been originally planned to be a trilogy has grown to a 7-volume series, with at least one more book to come.

The first 3 books (Outlander/Cross Stitch, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager), which were mostly set in Scotland in the period prior to and after the Battle of Culloden, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s dreams of capturing the British throne were thwarted, were undeniably the most popular.

Cover of An echo in the bone.
An Echo in the Bone

However, while some readers fell by the wayside with the shift of scene from Scotland to America, many New Zealanders remain faithful to the books’ hero and heroine, Jamie and Claire Fraser, if the number of holds on the latest book in the series, An Echo in the Bone, is anything to go by (I started out at number 147 and am now number 98). In fact the book is currently number 2 in the NZ Bestseller lists, just behind Dan Brown’s latest offering.

If you are one of the people who has already managed to get their hands on the book, I’d love to hear what you think about it – is it worth me waiting for my hold?

If you are still waiting, or have already read all of the books by Diana Gabaldon and want more reading material along similar lines, you might want to try the suggestions on our If you like Diana Gabaldon page or on the Author Read-alikes on Novelist Plus.

And if you are really keen, why not go see Diana Gabaldon herself at her talk here in Christchurch on 4th November?

Bum! Bum! Bum! Bum!

If you think books called “The day my bum went psycho”, “Bumageddon : the final pongflict”, and “What bumosaur is that” are not for you then definitely DON’T come to our Andy Griffiths author event on Wednesday.

Andy Griffiths is the most popular Australian children’s author  going at the moment and we are very pleased (and a little grossed out) to have him speaking as part of our 150th celebrations.

The second best part of our event is that is is FREE! Call the Library on 941-7923 to get some tickets sent out to you and come along to the Town Hall on Wednesday 12 August from 6:30 – 7:30, bringing along any children who like all things annoying, stupid, gross or disgusting, and any adults who would like to hear a hilarious speaker and possibly a story of a baby-to-dinosaur-head-transplant.

Blood of flowers

Blood of flowersWomen on Air – Plains FM set a high standard for author visits with their first for 2008; Anita Amirriezvani, who read from and discussed her book Blood of flowers. Born in Teheran but raised in California, Amirriezvani has travelled between these two countries which have been locked in the most diffficult of relationships for the last 30 years.

As things went from the bad of the American hostages in 1979 to the worse of the ‘axis of evil’ she began to think of writing a book that went beyond the headlines.

It took her nine years to write The blood of flowers and she did extensive research, travelling back to Iran 3 times to look at houses, tiles, and carpets both in books and in reality.

Set in 17th Century Iran and narrated by a nameless heroine who has the typical dreams and desires of a 14-year-old-girl, this is a lyrical and poetic novel blending the traditional fairy tale with a modern narrative.

Amirriezvani was determined to avoid the the stereotypes that began in the 16th century and were informed by the travel memoirs of men who had never met any Muslim women.  As Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a woman who could and did meet other women, said in her own memoir, Embassy to Constantinople, what the men said was often “far from the truth”.

PersepolisI always love it when someone in the audience asks the the author what they read themselves, and I particularly loved Amirriezvani’s answer – 19th century novels, including (my special favourite) George Eliot. She also mentioned Moby Dick, which she did admit you have to perservere with and which is also a favourite of recent Oscar winner Daniel Day Lewis.

I was dying to ask her if she had read Persepolis and Persepolis 2, two amazing graphic novels about growing up in Iran after the revolution, but didn’t.