In the lead up to our lunchtime author talk with Alan Duff he shared some of his favourite books, authors and public figures with us, including Tim Winton, E. L. Doctorow and Warren Buffett.
Please join us 12-12:45pm Wednesday 28th August 2019 to hear Alan discuss his new book, A Conversation With My Country (Penguin Random House). All welcome.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Telling it how he sees it.
A fresh, personal account of New Zealand, now, from one of our hardest-hitting writers.
Following Once Were Warriors, Alan Duff wrote Maori: The Crisis and the Challenge. His controversial comments shook the country. A quarter of a century later, New Zealand and Maoridom are in a very different place. And so is Alan – he has published many more books, had two films made of his works, founded the Duffy Books in Homes literacy programme and endured ‘some less inspiring moments, including bankruptcy’.
Returned from living in France, he views his country with fresh eyes, as it is now: homing in on the crises in parenting, our prisons, education and welfare systems, and a growing culture of entitlement that entraps Pakeha and Maori alike.
Never one to shy away from being a whetstone on which others can sharpen their own opinions, Alan tells it how he sees it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alan Duff was born in Rotorua in 1950. He has written novels, including Once Were Warriors, One Night Out Stealing and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?, a novella (State Ward), several children’s books and a number of non-fiction works. Once Were Warriors won the Pen Best First Book of Fiction Award and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? won the Montana New Zealand Book Award for Fiction. Both novels were made into internationally acclaimed films.
Duff was the driving force behind the Books in Homes scheme, which, with commercial sponsorship and government support, aims to break the cycle of illiteracy, poverty, anger and violence among underprivileged children by providing books for them to own.
The New Zealand Listener claimed that Duff’s debut, Once Were Warriors, ‘bursts upon the literary landscape with all the noise and power of a new volcano’, while acclaimed writer Witi Ihimaera wrote, ‘This is the Haka, the rage of a people who, yes, once were warriors . . . A kick to the guts of New Zealand’s much-vaunted pride in its Maori/Pakeha race relations. A breathless fearless debut.’
The Sydney Morning Herald regarded the sequel, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?, as ‘a masterpiece’: ‘powerful, authentic, moving, brilliantly written . . . a profound and passionate novel . . . a memorable experience’. The Australian praised its ‘universal truths to be savoured for their poetic insight’, while the Canberra Times called it ‘a brilliant work . . . poetic and full of hope’.
The New Zealand Listener wrote that What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? ‘carries the story on with doubled brilliance. The new book is just as dynamic, just as in-your-face as the first one, but less violent, more layered, more fundamentally thoughtful and challenging.’
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?
I’m reading Making History by NZ historian Jock Phillips, my wife’s sister’s husband. Really enjoying.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?
Tim Winton; E.L. Doctorow; Elmore Leonard; Jim Crace.
WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?
5th re-read of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?
Can’t answer as hardly watch movies.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?
Re-read most books but none more than Winton, Doctorow, and poet Pablo Neruda.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?
Don’t have favourite character. Love them all, as I know what goes into creating each one.
WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?
Wouldn’t likely have even my literary heroes to dinner as the few writers I’ve met have been shy and somewhat awkward. Warren Buffet – once he’s had his Big Mac and coke and fries – would make a good dinner guest. Have friends who make excellent dinner table company. Some of my ex-All Black mates make surprisingly good company, if not necessarily high-brow conversation. But they are curious.
HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?
Bookshelves in author alphabetical order thanks to my organised wife.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?
Two favourite quotes – or lines – both from English great, G.M. Hopkins: ‘O the mind, mind has mountains, cliffs of fall, frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed…’
And from his last poem ever written: ‘Give me the roll, the rise, the carol, the creation…’