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 18, 2016
Like Nobody's Watching
Like Nobody’s Watching
Escalator Press - $24.99
First-time New Zealand author L. J. Ritchie exposes
the perils of the cyber world in his gripping young adult novel, Like Nobody’s Watching, released in early October.
Set on the streets of Wellington, this novel pushes
past the stereotypical state surveillance narratives and takes a critical look
at how the digital world is shaping the everyday lives of New Zealand
Ritchie shares the moral journey of a Wellington
teenage hacker, Oscar, who uses his school’s surveillance system to seek
justice for the bullied and the downtrodden. But the power the cameras provide
is too great for Oscar, and the line between protection and judgement becomes
blurred. When his classmates turn their own screens against him, his flaws are
exposed, and he starts policing his every move – like everybody’s always
Ritchie’s novel is a contemporary narrative
of self-surveillance, brought about by the cyber spaces and digital devices
accessible to teenagers on a daily basis. For Ritchie, the real danger is conformity:
“There is a common misconception that surveillance is
a moral tool, which highlights moral transgressions. I feel that surveillance
is more a tool of conformity … in high school, were you more afraid of someone
seeing you do something wrong, or something that made you look stupid?”
With much to say about the fear of surveillance,
Ritchie is already contributing to New Zealand’s ongoing political debate,
discussing public and private surveillance with internationally respected
investigative journalist Nicky Hager, author of Dirty Politics, in the latest Escalator Press newsletter.
Ritchie is definitely one to watch.
About the author
Ritchie is a Wellington-based author of young adult fiction. He combines strong
interests in education and the arts, and co-hosts local film podcast Never Repeats. He completed the Whitireia Creative
Writing Programme in 2013. His interest in surveillance culture was sparked
during his undergraduate study, and developed further during his teacher
training when he observed how various forms of surveillance encouraged
conformity in schools.