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, October 04, 2016
I KNow THis To Be True
I Know This To Be
The first truth is, this is not a
This is a book about New Zealanders who
are living interesting lives and the things they know to be true, the things
they believe in, the things they have been taught and the things they have
learned. You might have heard of some of them, but that’s not what’s important.
It’s about how they got to where they are and the truths they learned along the
way. And the truth is compelling.
This project started with publisher Geoff
Blackwell wanting to make a book about truth and television producer Ric
Salizzo wanting to help raise funds for Mike Chunn’s Play It Strange, so they
got together and the result is I Know This To Be True – a book and television
project about sixty New Zealanders in the middle of interesting lives.
After working in publishing and television
for more than 30 years respectively, Geoff and Ric had a pretty good idea of
who they wanted to approach. Geoff had a vision for a ‘truth wall’ and he
commissioned artist Ollie Wall to create an original painting, which became the
backdrop for the project. Waihi photographers Jake Thomas and Mike Hill were
persuaded to take a break from weddings for a while, and so the journey began.
“New Zealanders are amazing people to
listen to. Though they are instinctively humble, when they relax there is
usually an honesty that comes through – a no-bullshit way of describing things.
My job on this project was to be on the other side of the conversation and to
sit back and listen,” says Salizzo.
Blackwell says, “I’ve made books about
love, about wisdom, and about a myriad of other subjects, and I thought it was
time to make a book about truth. I think that as we get older our tolerance for
smoke and mirrors reduces, and truth and meaning become even more compelling to
For those involved in making the project it
was an absolute privilege to sit back and listen to people like Dave Dobbyn
explain what making music feels like for him. To hear Colin Meads recall that
whenever he pulled on the black jersey he had to remind himself, ‘You don’t
come second in this one, boy.’ To have Victoria Ransom describe what it felt
like when Google handed her and her husband an offer of $400 million for their
business. To listen to Dame Silvia Cartwright talk about being a judge on the
Khmer Rouge Tribunal, just days after Glenn Martin recounted how he invented a
jetpack by working in secret for 20 years.
With sixty incredible New Zealanders
talking about the values they were taught growing up, the feelings they had
when they did incredible things, the places where they find beauty and
happiness, the things they are scared of, and the moments that bring them to
tears, I Know This To Be True is an intimate look at ourselves, our country,
our values, the things that matter to us, and what makes us
uniquely ‘New Zealand’. PQ Blackwell - $49.95 For me this is the ultimate Christmas gift book. Very special indeed.