Every three years–the year after each general election–political scientists, writers, and Victoria University Press come together to release a book detailing the who, why, when and what of election night and the events surrounding it. On Monday 17th of September, Unity Books Wellington had the honour of hosting the invitation-only launch of this year’s version: Stardust & Substance: The New Zealand General Election of 2017. With speeches from Victoria University Press’ Fergus Barrowman, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern herself, and the book’s editor Stephen Levine, followed by signing by Levine and Ardern, it was a very busy night. Stardust & Substance is the first of these books to be so focused on one person–as you can see from artist (& Unity old-girl) Todd Atticus’ cover. Barrowman cheerily told the audience that the first print run of a book is based on how sales went last time, and Stardust & Substance had gone to its second print run that very morning.
Levine is an old hat at the editing business, having edited or contributed to many of the previous books about general elections, as well as other works. He told us he’d dedicated other books to each of his grandchildren, friends, and colleagues, but that if you produce enough books you eventually run out of relatives. Even so, he was pleased to have worked with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Stardust & Substance, and hoped that those same people there would be meeting again in three years for the next book. Ardern talked about how strange it was to help launch a book she began as an unknowing participant, but also how grateful. As a token of thanks, Levine and his granddaughters presented Ardern with a copy of Jenny Bornholdt’s The Longest Breakfast–a classic New Zealand children’s book and one of our favourites here at Unity.
Stardust & Substance: the NZ General Election of 2017 is available in store and online now.
The event was livestreamed by TVNZ, and the footage is available to watch online.