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Friday, 20 December 2013

Jean Allen decries gaps in The Listener's NZ book coverage.

I read with interest The 100 Best Books of 2013 in the New Zealand Listener November 30th to December 6th this year. The sentence underneath the heading read – 'Books & Culture editor GUY SOMERSET' and listed the magazine’s team of reviewers on the year’s reading highlights. This article took up sixteen pages.     Admittedly the heading alone took up two thirds of the first page and from there on pictures of five book covers topped and bottomed each page.

This is a New Zealand magazine, to which I have subscribed for years and being a writer, the article interested me. Having read most of it I counted the numbers of books listed under the genres.

FICTION – featured 45 titles, of which I counted only 3 New Zealand authors.
They were The Fall of Light by Sarah Laing; The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and Wake by Elizabeth Knox. Not being an expert on the top writers of this country I apologize if I have overlooked anyone.
I found this far greater number of overseas books sad.

In our own country, in a New Zealand magazine, I would have thought our authors would have been better represented. Yes, we are a small country – but had Eleanor Catton not won the Man Booker Prize I suppose there would have only been two New Zealand books in that list.
Other categories, Poetry, Art and Natural History, were much the same.
Perhaps the Listener might counterbalance this very long article with an equally long one featuring our own authors, including Indie published authors.

This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen wishing a Happy Reading Holiday to all NZ writers and readers.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you, Jean. The neglect of New Zealand authors is shameful and it's about time we did something about it. The question is how do we redress this imbalance as we can't rely on others such as NZ Society of Authors and other self-interested groups. The NZ Book Month was supposed to take place in March, 2014. It has now been arbitrarily moved to August. I have heard via the authorial grapevine that there are many NZ writer groups who intend to continue with their already planned March events. These, I am sure, will more happily reflect the New Zealand writing scene. We have many very good writers in New Zealand. Let's celebrate them!