First, build your hut

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  • Published 20140204
  • ISBN: 9781922182241
  • Extent: 300 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

WHERE IS OUR Marcus Clarke? Henry Handel Richardson? Rolf Boldrewood, Ada Cambridge, Tasma, Henry Kingsley, Joseph Furphy? Why don’t we have the rich history of three-deckers and popular fiction that adorns the literary history of Victorian Australia? In the late 1890s a clerk on a large sheep station in the North Island wrote in one of his many letters to the local paper that it was high time someone wrote a ‘really good novel of life and manners in New Zealand’. But literary history as it was taught to students of my generation maintained that New Zealand literature did not begin until the 1930s – 1932 to be precise – when a group of young men in Auckland published a magazine called Phoenix and ushered in literary nationalism. In any case the novel was not the preferred genre of the fiction writers of the 1930s who, following Henry Lawson and the Golden Nineties, liked the short story. It has taken us till 2013 to get a big, fat, juicy nineteenth century novel – I refer of course to Eleanor Catton’s Booker Prize-winning The Luminaries.

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About the author

Lydia Wevers

Lydia Wevers is the director of the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.She has published widely on Australian...

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