Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Charming, heart-breaking and heart-warming new novel from Emma Neale
AttheheartofBillyBird,hercharming,heart-breakingandheart-warmingnewnovel, isaquirkyanddelightfulyoungboywhoisnotthenorm.Billyisintelligentand sensitive,butreactsto tragedyinanunusual–thoughwithinhisworldperfectly plausible–way.Thenoveltrackshisparents,atalosswithhowtodealwithhis peculiarities, while trying to find a
path through their own grief.
Neale says she wanted to experiment using different literary modes to reflect shifts in
‘Increasingly,asI grewmoreimmersedinthisimaginaryfamily,itfelt tomethat flick-flacking in and
out of styles reflected the constantly ducking and diving energy, theswervesof focus,inabusyhousehold:notonlyits dailykitchen-sinkmini-dramas, butthelargerdramaof
threepeopledealingwithhowtorecalibratethemselves individually and as a family after significant
crises – ranging from professional/economicto
It’s an emotional and at times heart-wrenching read, but it’s also
uplifting and entertaining, thanks to Billy’s idiosyncrasies. Neale says that
creating ‘an ebullient, highly intelligent, quirky and yet vulnerable child
character as one of the lynch pins in the novel meant that there was a lot of
room for hijinx and madcap joy, too.’
Ripe with playfulness, yet also unforgettably poignant, this novel will
unstitch — and then mend — your heart several times over.
About the author
EMMA NEALE is a poet and prose writer, was born in Dunedin and raised in
Christchurch, San Diego, CA, and Wellington. After gaining her first literature
degree from Victoria University, she went on to complete her MA and PhD at
University College London. She has written five novels — Night Swimming, Little
Moon, Relative Strangers, Double Take and Fosterling — and a number of poetry
collections, and has edited anthologies of both short stories and poetry.
Neale won the Todd New Writer’s Bursary in 2000, was the inaugural
recipient of the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature (2008), and was
the 2012 Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago. Her poetry collection
The Truth Garden won the Kathleen Grattan Award for poetry in 2011, and
Fosterling was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award in 2012. Her
collection Tender Machines was longlisted in the inaugural Ockham New Zealand
Book Awards. She teaches, works in publishing and looks after her two children.