Monday, 8 June 2015

June newsletter

David Coventry's debut novel is set during the 1928 Tour de France. It re-imagines the tour from inside the peloton, where the test of endurance for one rider becomes a psychological journey into the chaos of WW1 a decade earlier. David spoke to us about how he came to writing the book.

"I used to be the research manager at the NZFA (now Nga Taonga: Sound and Vision) and all questions pertaining to the content and usage of the collections came through me. In late August 2012 I received an email from Phil Keoghan of The Amazing Race fame. He was asking for footage of a cyclist named Harry Watson, who I was utterly unfamiliar with. I did a bit of research to see if I might be able to help out. As soon as I saw Watson’s fairly thin Wikipedia page, that he was referred to as ‘The Priest’ during the Tour de France I just knew I was about to start my next writing project. It was the connect between history, sport and religion that immediately excited me. I heard a rhythm and a voice, went home and started writing."

David says that the link between sport and religion has always interested him.

"I adore sport and find the shape of emotions that spill out similar to what I’ve sensed in the religious activities and organisations I have spent a lot of time around during different occupations and eras of study. I’m fascinated with the compulsion of both, fascinated with the strange binding connections the dramas lend to cultures’ ideas of themselves; ideas of nationhood and individuality."
The Invisible Mile will be launched by novelist Carl Shuker at Unity Books on Thursday 11 June, 6pm–7.30pm.
All welcome.

Readers' Salon

The Readers' Salon with Anna Smaill and Bridget van der Zijpp on Wednesday 3 June at Vic Books was a sold out event, and huge fun. We look forward to running more of these events in the near future.


Thanks to all our writers and the keen readers who took part in another successful Auckland Writers Festival.

We were delighted to be present when Stephanie de Montalk received the Nigel Cox Prize for her book How Does It Hurt? after her AWF event. Susanna Andrew, who organises the prize alongside Unity Books, said that in a year where there are no book awards, they couldn't let How Does It Hurt? go unnoticed.

"It is a book Nigel Cox would have been in awe of. At a talk at the 2015 Auckland Writers Festival, Stephanie de Montalk said that although she was in constant pain the mere liminal presence of books, the spines (in particular of New Zealand books) in her sightline gave her something; the presence of others, that fact of the books’ existence was a comfort. Though we’re not sure she used the word comfort. We are glad then that the second Nigel Cox Award for 2015 and $1000 worth of book vouchers from Unity Books Auckland can be given out to such a praiseworthy recipient." 

Reviews and news

Nicholas Reid finds much to praise in Steven Loveridge's Calls to Arms here.

Roger Horrocks was interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon about his new poetry collection, Song of the Ghost in the Machine. Nice to note this collection was no. 1 on the NZ list in its release week.

"Van der Zijpp has written an adult, thought-provoking and gripping story on a real social issue." Sunday Star Times review of Bridget van der Zijpp's In the Neighbourhood of Fame.

"...her [De Montalk’s] own book deserves to be regarded as a classic on the singularly uncomfortable subject of ongoing human bodily suffering." Stephanie de Montalk's How Does It Hurt? reviewed in  Landfall Review.

"A fantastic first novel," Kerry Donovan Brown's Lamplighter reviewed in Landfall Review

Pip Adam has been building up a strong library of podcast discussions about books with other writers and readers at Better Off Read.

We are pleased to note that all Fairfax book reviews are being posted on the Stuff website now.

Report from London

Fergus Barrowman attended the Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature this past weekend with Elizabeth Knox. He writes:

"I am grateful to Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Book Council for sending Elizabeth to London, and to the Australia and New Zealand Festival for her invitation. I have enjoyed my role as baggage handler and research assistant.

It was more like an academic conference than any festival I've been to before. You enter by an unmarked King's College door on the Strand, and look for the first of a series of green teeshirted volunteers who conduct you down corridors and up stairs to the rooms in which the events take place. Elizabeth's 2.5 hour world-building workshop was in a standard tutorial room – and because it was under-subscribed it was a great experience for everybody.

My two highlights were both in the chapel. First, a recital of settings of Denis Glover poems: Lilburn's 'Sings Harry', and new commissions from Patrick Shepherd and Lyell Cresswell, beautifully performed by Christopher Bowen and Lindy Tennent-Brown. And a poetry reading featuring Vincent O'Sullivan and three good Australians: Claire Potter, Emma Jones and Omar Musa.

Now we're in Liverpool, where people are still apologising for the weather."

Above picture: Vincent O'Sullivan reads at King's College Chapel.

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