2016 was New Zealand lit heavy for The FreeRange Bookclub. Not only did Kiwi novels litter the schedule, the NZ Book Awards re-emerged, inciting fresh excitement amongst book lovers about our home-grown talent.
With our immersion into New Zealand books, we discovered there were stylistic similarities and recurring themes in what a local author will produce. The laid-back, retelling of childhood memories is prevalent, invoking the reader’s own reminiscence and bonding with the content – a personalised story rather than a plot heavy, drama filled book like an overseas writer may produce.
At the other extreme, dark, disturbing tales seem to be a part of our literary make up too. Yet, we surmised, they are done with a level of restraint, to ensure intrigue and a level of ickyness are present, while the truly disturbing material is hinted at or camoflagued so as not to be raw and horrifying.
So at Nahm Restaurant, overlooking the Nelson harbour, we mused over our favourite moments of the year. There were some similarities among our favourite moments. For example, the Scarecrow’s opening line was deemed the most memorable sentence: “The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut.” Elizabeth Knox’s faceless monster in Wake was considered the most thought-provoking metaphor, and the ending in Genesis the most shocking moment. Here’s a few more of our top picks:
Book of the year:
Rachel: The Scarecrow
Becks: The Scarecrow
Jo: The Scarecrow
Sonya: A Story of A New Zealand River
Rachel: A Story of A New Zealand River
Becks: A Story of A New Zealand River
Sonya: Alice & Bruce from A Story of A New Zealander River
Rachel: Charmaine & Stan from The Heart Goes Last
Becks: Alice & Bruce from A Story of A New Zealander River
Jo: Azoro’s mother and father in The Famished Road
Most memorable setting/location:
Sonya: The river in A Story Of A New Zealand River
Rachel: The prison in The Heart Goes Last
Becks: The river in A Story Of A New Zealand River
Jo: Our home region of Tasman in Wake