Thursday, December 14, 2017

Powerful poetry collection wins Adam Foundation Prize

A “powerful, restrained but unafraid” collection of poems that explore the lives of four generations of Māori women has been awarded the 2017 Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing by Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML).

Tayi Tibble, 22, wrote the winning work—In a Fish Tank Filled with Pink Light—as part of her 2017 Master of Arts (MA) at the IIML.

 Tayi describes winning the Adam Foundation Prize as incredibly encouraging. “It was a privilege and a pleasure to have spent the year so deeply immersed in the world of writing with such talented, intelligent, and generous friends. I believe it was the high calibre of work from my peers that stimulated my growth as a writer, as well as the guidance and encouragement from Louise Wallace and Chris Price. Although I am sad to see the end of this invaluable year, winning the Adam Foundation Prize signals the beginning of a new chapter.”

Wellington-born Tayi (Te Whānau a Apanui/Ngāti Porou) went to school in Porirua and holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Policy from Victoria.  She has regularly appeared in Wellington’s LitCrawl Festival, and her work has been published in Starling—the journal for writers under 25—and Landfall.

Supported by Wellingtonians Denis and Verna Adam through the Victoria University Foundation, the $3,000 Adam Foundation Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the MA in Creative Writing programme at the IIML.

Chris Price, a senior lecturer at the IIML and co-convenor of this year’s Master’s programme, says it’s been a pleasure to read the poems as they have developed over the course of the year.

“Tayi is an ambitious writer who has seized every opportunity to extend her craft and her range of subject matter. Her poems speak to contemporary urban realities, and to the histories that created them. They are also charming, funny and on point.”

This is the second year running that the Adam Foundation Prize has gone to a 22-year-old writer, after Annaleese Jochems’ novel Baby received the prize in 2016.

“Tayi joins the incoming wave of young writers who are forging the future of literature in this country.  We are confident she will make her mark,” says Chris.

Previous Adam Foundation Prize recipients include acclaimed authors Catherine Chidgey, Ashleigh Young, Hera Lindsay Bird and Eleanor Catton.

For more information contact Katie Hardwick-Smith on (04 463 6854) or

WORDS - Douglas McLennan

“I’m A College English Instructor. My Breed Is Dying”
     from Chronicle of Higher Education

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Blackwell’s e-textbook platform, Blackwell Learning, has been sold to rival Kortext for an undisclosed sum.
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The Day She Saved the Doctor
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Rachel Cusk
Rachel Cusk is returning to Faber & Faber to publish the third in her trilogy of novels about divorced creative writing teacher Faye.

The New Yorker
A short story about an awkward, troubling sexual encounter has gone viral, drawing a "record-breaking" number of online views.
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The Roundup with PW

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Off the Shelf

December 13, 2017
Allison Tyler
The 5 Best Books I Read Last Year
I am a firm believer that libraries and book stores are my oracles, and the novels on this list have chosen me as much as I’ve chosen them. As I’ve stepped deeper into my second half-century on this planet, the characters in these five novels have met me where I am: whether they took me away completely; helped me sort out the current state of affairs (internally and externally); or led me to reevaluate my history, and future, with a softer eye. Perhaps one of these books is exactly what you need right now, too.

Publishers Lunch

Today's Meal

Harper Children's has created an new internal editorial team focusing on teen and middle grade fiction. Erica Sussman is editorial director of the team, joined by Kristen Pettit, Emilia Rhodes, Alice Jerman, Elizabeth Lynch and Stephanie Stein.

Rachel Zugschwert will join Lerner Publishing Group as group marketing director starting January 1. She was most recently director of marketing for Sparkhouse Family. Jill Braithwaite moves over from group marketing director to the role of publishing director, trade. Jenny Krueger has been promoted to publishing director, school & library. Mark Budde has been promoted to executive vice president, chief operations officer.

Jaymie Stewart Wolfe will join Ave Maria Press as senior editor, trade books on January 3. She has been acquisitions editor at Our Sunday Visitor.

After years of considering a change, the annual UJA Publishing Division dinner will move to a less formal format in 2018. The "elaborate" cocktail reception will be extended, and dessert will be served while the awards are presented instead, in place of a sit-down dinner. Scheduled for April 25, the event will honor Macmillan president Don Weisberg, and will present the Harry Scherman Service Award to Ingram Content Group executive Matty Goldberg.

Best Ofs
Recently-issued Best Books of 2017 lists include selections from
Maureen Corrigan at NPR, People Magazine, and critics Katy Waldman and Laura Miller at Slate.


Baileys Prize finalist Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo is the new Sarah Jessica Parker pick for the ALA's Book Club Central.


NYC bookstore group Book Culture opened its fourth store, on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens. The 2,300 square foot space is their first location outside of Manhattan.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Shelf Awareness - r best adult books for 2017

You'd think it would be difficult to narrow down the year's best books. And it was. We promise, though, that no Shelf Awareness staffers were injured in the making of this list, so enjoy! (Click here to see our reviews in today's Shelf Awareness for Readers.)

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Knopf)
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (Morrow)
Exit West by Mohsin Ahmed (Riverhead)
Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan (Tin House)
Since I Laid My Burden Down by Brontez Purnell (Amethyst Editions/Feminist Press)
So Much Blue by Percivel Everett (Graywolf Press)
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (Lenny/Random House)
South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby (Picador)
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo (Knopf)
The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (Del Ray)
The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne (Putnam)
The Year of the Comet by Sergel Levedev (New Vessel Press)
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nnneka Arimah (Riverhead)
White Tears by Hari Kunzru (Knopf)
A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand by Jim Harrison (Grove Atlantic)
Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene by Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt (Univ. of Minnesota Press)
Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle Allen (Liveright)
Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin (Little, Brown)
Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen (Clarkson Potter)
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Harper)
Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes (Bloomsbury USA)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday)
No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers (Hachette)
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead Books)
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (Abrams ComicArts)
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (Grand Central)
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury Circus)
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown)

A story of emotional survival

I’ll have You Home by Christmas
by June Allen
June Allen’s estranged husband snatched the oldest of their three children in August 1969, while the family was living in Sydney. He left June a note to say he would be back later the same day for the other two children. Terrified of losing the other children and heartbroken at having to leave 7-year-old Philip behind, June raced to the airport in the clothes she, Patti and Rex were wearing and carrying only the blanket 4-year-old Rex was wrapped in. Her father in New Zealand paid for their air tickets and later that day they were back in Auckland.

    So begins a heart breaking account of June’s struggle to care for Patti and Rex and after a brief time with her father, to manage alone as a solo-parent, all the while trying to figure out how to get Philip back from Australia. Her book is a stark reminder that today’s social woes – homelessness, dysfunctional families, child poverty and poor mental health – are nothing new. They all existed back then, 50-odd years ago.

     However, Allen’s story highlights that then those issues were greatly stigmatised and there was very little aid for a young mother in dire need. There was no tenant protection and it appears to have been far too easy for her family to free themselves of June by committing her to a psychiatric hospital and her children to foster care. Eventually her former husband and his new partner tired of caring for Philip and he was reunited with his mother, Patti and Rex. Without any financial support from the children’s father, the early 1970s were a tough time for Allen and her little family. Life was harsh and they were often cold and hungry, inadequately clothed and resorting to extreme tactics to find somewhere safe to be together. And yet Allen never relented in her determination to create a dignified life for her family.

     I’ll Have You Home by Christmas is an unembroidered account of Allen’s hardships. It is bleak and disturbing and sad. Perhaps it will have you wishing you could have been there to help her and there will be rare comic moments that will let you laugh out loud. There may be times when you wish you could have given Allen and/or her family a good shake. Readers who have ever had to deal first hand with any of Allen’s hardship will sympathise with her, while those who have escaped such challenges may find this a somewhat frustrating read, but at the same time, I’ll Have You Home by Christmas is a tribute to Allen’s unwavering courage, resilience, resourcefulness and single-mindedness.

     It would be so easy to dismiss I’ll Have You Home by Christmas for its simple, slightly jumbled literary style and no-frills presentation. However, even the luckiest of readers, and I count myself as having had a fairly untroubled life, will surely ask themselves, as I did, How would I have coped in those conditions? so that in the end this book is an acclamation of love and a mother’s survival instinct; of sheer grit and truthfulness.

     As difficult as life still is for the under-privileged in 21st-century New Zealand society, I’ll Have You Home by Christmas is proof that some conditions at least have changed for the better.

Flaxflower Review by Carolyn McKenzie
Writer, freelance proofreader, copy editor, and translator from Italian to English.
Carolyn kindly offers accommodation at reasonable ratesfor FlaxFlower writers
in Thames (Waikato) and Ventimiglia Alta (Liguria, Italy ).
Title: I’ll Have You Home by Christmas.  A story of emotional survival
Author: June Allen
Publisher: Kwizzel Publishing
ISBN: ISBN 978 0 473 388522; large print ISBN 978 0 473 396275
RRP: $ $32.00; large print $34.50
Available: McLeod’s Rotorua, selected Paper Plus stores, Wheelers, Unity Books Wellington, All Books, and the Publisher