Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top 5 NZ fiction recommendations

List by ex-Manukau Research Library and Central Services staff

'I have always known that in another life I was - or will be - a dolphin. I am a pink human, caught in a net of ambition and years of hard work. In a few minutes I will dive into artificially turquoise water waiting at my feet. A minute later I'll either be ecstatic or a failure.'
~ From 'Alex', Tessa Duder

In honour of New Zealand Book Month, I put out a call for votes for top reads by New Zealand authors, and here are the favourite fiction picks from my neighbouring librarians. I decided not to number them because I would have had to have asked the librarians in question to duke it out for rankings (though I have a sneaking suspicion that Jolene's passion for the Alex quartet may have taken out top spot, so's you know)...

The hut builder / Laurence Fearnley
As a boy in the late 1930s, young Boden's life is changed for ever the day his neighbour Dudley drives him over the mountains into the vast snow-covered plains of the Mackenzie Country. He realises he will never be the same again. Years later, the 20-year-old Boden, now a university student, helps build an alpine hut high up on the eastern slopes of Mount Cook. Living in snow caves while the hut is built, Boden forms important relationships with members of his working party, most notably with Walter, a conscientious objector from the Second World War.

Selected by: Theo (Manager Collections South)
The story of a man in search of his personal and national heritage. A moving account of one person's life, set in post WW2 New Zealand.

Mister Pip / Lloyd Jones
Mister Pip is a love story, a story about the meaning of names and the power of words. It is about growing up, survival and the search for clues to make sense of life. Thirteen year old Matilda lives with her mother on the Pacific island of Bougainville, which suddenly becomes a violent place: Rebels want the copper mine, which is poisoning their island, to close. They are trying to drive the redskin army, enemies from neighbouring Papua New Guinea, into the sea. The abandoned schoolhouse is overgrown with jungle. In this troubled world, Mr Watts decides he will open the school once more, and read 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens aloud to his students, a chapter a day.

Selected by: Cheryl (Libraries Service Delivery Manager - Puhinui)
Mister Pip was very moving - it grabbed me, and I just had to keep reading it.

Gifted / Patrick Evans
One day in 1955 the 'father of New Zealand fiction' finds a young woman on his doorstep. A writer herself, she has recently emerged from a lengthy spell in hospital and is looking for somewhere safe to live and write. Somewhat to his own surprise, not to mention discomfort, he takes her in. What happens behind that high Takapuna hedge in the ensuing year is the story told in this delightful and moving novel.

Selected by: Theo (Manager Collections South)
The story of an important moment in NZ literary history, when Janet Frame stayed with Frank Sargeson and wrote her novel "Owls Do Cry". Written with humour and insight.

The Alex quartet / Tessa Duder

Selected by: Jolene (Learning and Literacy Coordinator Rangatahi)
I read and re-read this series as a teenager! It's one of my favourite teen books! I think I loved it so much because it had such a strong female character, but one who as well as being tough was also vulnerable and made plenty of mistakes along the way. It follows Alex, a 15 year old swimmer, on her quest to get to the Rome Olympics. But its about so much more than swimming, along the way Alex has to find herself amid personal trauma, relationships and training for the biggest event of her life!

The Karazan quartet / V. M. Jones

Selected by: Jolene (Learning and Literacy Coordinator Rangatahi)
This series kept me reading at break neck speed to find out what happens! It has lots of adventure, challenges and friendship, with suspense, great characters...and some scary ones! Its about an orphan named Adam, whose never been good at anything, but then wins a competition to test out the latest top secret computer game....and that's where the quest begins! One of my favourite New Zealand children's books.

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