Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lowlife: Short Story Collection Published

Lowlife: short stories
by Michael Botur
ISBN-13: 978-1547018598

A Whangarei writer says ‘working class’ experiences he has had throughout his 20s and early 30s as part of Generation Rent inspired his latest short story collection.

Michael Botur releases Lowlife: short stories in Whangarei on July 12. The book is Botur’s fourth short story collection, with previous collections garnering strong reviews.

Lowlife has a thoroughly Northland flavour to it, featuring a unique “gang patch” cover referencing the ‘dirty realism’ style and content of the book.

“The Lowlife stories are about people stuck in conflict trying to work their way out of it, trying to make their lives better,” Botur says.

“My characters often share frustrations with me as we both try to make our lives better in a part of the country where there’s not much money circulating. Buying a cheap house in Tikipunga and trying to escape Generation Rent has been a particularly big influence on me. That’s a class conflict thing, and class conflict is a big theme in the stories.”

Michael Botur works as a freelance journalist for Northland DHB and as a content writer of blogs and property and parenting columns. His recent publications include poetry in Manifesto Aotearoa: 101 Political Poems published by Otago University Press and flash fiction selected for Bonsai: The Big Book of Small Stories by Canterbury University Press. Botur is author of previous short story collections Spitshine (2016), Mean (2013) and Hot Bible! (2012). Awards include Whangarei Libraries Flash Fiction Comp 2015 first and second place winner, Guest Fiction Writer for Tākahe magazine, third place in the Miles Hughes Award 2014, second in 2009’s Kiwi Short Story Competition and winner of Her magazine’s Short Story Competition 2008.

Lowlife is available from ( and
250pp ISBN-13: 978-1547018598 RRP $24.99

Conquistador Puzzle Trail translated into Spanish and free copies sent to 350 Schools and Universities in New Zealand

The Embassy of Spain in New Zealand and author Winston Cowie have collaborated and translated Cowie's book, Conquistador Puzzle Trail, into Spanish. Conquistador Puzzle Trail proposes that Spanish or Iberian navigators may have been the first Europeans to voyage to New Zealand, over 100 years pre Abel Tasman. 

The Spanish version is entitled "Nueva Zelanda, Un Puzzle Historico: Tras la pista de los conquistadores espanoles," which means: “New Zealand, a history puzzle: After the traces of the Spanish Conquistadors.”

As part of the celebration of launching the Spanish version, the Embassy of Spain and Cowie have sent a free English version, to 350 Secondary Schools and Universities in New Zealand.

The Ambassador of Spain comments that “this book focuses on the cultural relations between our two countries that despite being in the antipodes they might have shared a common history. It is really a food for thought not only for scholars but also for students in the schools of New Zealand.”

Author Winston Cowie, states "I am incredibly grateful to the Embassy of Spain, New Zealand for their ongoing collaboration and cooperation. To have Conquistador Puzzle Trail now translated into Spanish and distributed across Spain, and the English version now in most Secondary Schools and Universities in New Zealand is a proud moment. My hope is that students will read the book, and in time become teachers themselves, and perceptions changed in respect of the European discovery of New Zealand. What is needed is a robust public debate on the subject, and more research, in order to move knowledge forward. Everybody has a role to play."

The Embassy of Spain and Cowie have also offered a free personal copy to the first 10 history teachers that volunteer to write their own objective review on Conquistador Puzzle Trail.

The Embassy of Spain and Winston Cowie look forward to the ongoing discussion on the theory that the Spanish and other Iberians were the first Europeans to voyage to New Zealand.

“Plus ultra,” ‘Beyond’, as the Conquistadors would say.

National Flash Fiction Day Winners

Congratulations to the 2017 winners!

Prizegiving took place at the June 22 NFFD events in Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington.

Here are this year’s winners (judges’ comments can be found here):






Gunshots Are Too Common by Patrick Pink, Auckland

Regional Prize, Auckland




When Winter Comes by Rachel Smith, Christchurch

Regional Prize, Canterbury




It won’t happen again by Shani Naylor, Wellington

Regional Prize, Wellington





Birdman in Aotea Square by Anita Arlov, Auckland

Kinaesthesia by Allan Drew, Auckland

Shipboard Romance by Fiona Lincoln, Lower Hutt

Spindrift by Janis Freegard, Wellington

The Math of Me by Jessica Thompson, Dunedin — Regional Prize, Otago





Peace and Quiet by Derek Jones, Auckland

Scar Tissue by Nikki Crutchley, Hamilton — Regional Prize, Hamilton


Scout by Robyn Maree Pickens, Dunedin

The Chlorinated Mermaid by Nikki Crutchley, Hamilton

Three Dresses by Jessie Puru, Auckland







The Cold by Joy Tong, age 15, Auckland



Dear Satan by Asha Clark, age 12, Tauranga



The Brass Angels by Russell Boey, age 15, Christchurch



What Happens Next by Jacinta van der Linden, age 17, Kaitaia




Cake and Ice-cream by Jana Heise, age 12, Northland

Ode to Joy by Monica Koster, age 15, Christchurch

The Worry Troll Who Lives in my Head by Annick Laird, age 15, Northland




Excuses by Joy Tong, age 15, Auckland

Interchange by Freya Kelly, age 12, Wellington

The Carnival by Dominic Botherway, age 10, Queenstown


The winning stories will be published in the special winter edition of Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction –– forthcoming July/August.

Off the Shelf

June 23, 2017
Martha Conway


A Good Horse Story That Will Hook You Right Away

A few years ago I was looking, as we readers usually are, for a good book. I had just finished reading a string of literary novels, the kind in which you are so busy admiring the writing that you lose track of the plot (if there is one), and I was jonesing to lose myself in a story. But when my friend recommended THE HEARTS OF HORSES to me, I was reluctant at first to pick it up.

The Roundup with PW

ALA 2017: ALA, Google Announce $500,000 in Grants to Support Computer Skills
The American Library Association kicked off its 2017 annual conference on Thursday with a reception at Google’s Chicago office to celebrate a new $500,000 competitive grant program, sponsored by Google, to encourage computer skills in America’s libraries.
more »
How a Small Press Landed a Big Fish in Naomi Klein
For her new title 'No Is Not Enough,' which Klein called "a movement book," the Canadian activist and author said she wanted to work with "a movement publisher." She found one in Chicago-based indie Haymarket Books.
more »

Why Hollywood Loves Stephen King: It’s a particularly fruitful year for the bestselling author—but what makes his work so consistently popular?

Millennials Aren't Killing Libraries: According to a Pew Research Center report, Millennials frequents public libraries more often than members of any other age group.

Memoirs of Black Mourning: Mychal Denzel Smith argues that memoirs on death in black families are both an outlet for grief and a public obligation to mourn.

The Invisibility of the Translator: How a translation can affect the meaning of a text, and a "sliding scale" between author, text, and reader.

Writers Looking for Forever Home: These various types of writers need homes. Browse their adoption listings and see if this is the writer for you!


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