Short stories are a stalwart of New Zealand literature. Kiwis always punch above their weight in this genre. This collection features twenty stories by eighteen of the current writers of the style and includes many well-known names. More short stories should be taught in schools, they are rich in poetic language and yet so accessible for all students. The more we can celebrate this art form, the better!
The premise for this collection comes from editors Brian and Robyn Bargh who asked “the best of our storytellers” to write stories to surprise and delight. With 25 years of experience with the Huia Publishing brand there is quite the selection to choose from. The stories definitely contain that element of surprise within them, with emphasis on whanau, the church, educational institutions and the communities in which we exist.
Briar Grace-Smith begins the curated collection with “A Small Light” with wonderfully expressive vocabulary and an intertwining of the worlds within the Rotorua context. Filled with intrigue and excitement, it really hits that concept of surprise. The seemingly indefatigable Patricia Grace adds the beautifully written “Hey dude” showing, yet again, just how much of a skilled story writer she is.
Of particular note is the beautiful expression of love from Jacquie McRae with “Time”, a heart wrenching account of loss, but also of living life to its fullest expression. In addition, James George’s “Moontide” captures the imagination with its vivid descriptions and strong characters.
The wonderful thing about short stories is the adaptability of the narrative. The way you can read a story in one sitting and yet still ruminate about the ideas and considerations for some time after. These writers are masters of their craft.
Title: Stories on the four winds, Ngā hau e whā
Authors: Briar Grace-Smith, Terence Risetto, AlbertWendt, Paula Morris, Alice Tawhai, James George, Jacquie McRae, Era J Hart, Helen Waaka, PatriciaGrace, Toni Pivac, K-T Harrison, Anya Ngawhare, Renée, Anne French, Tina Makereti, Piripi Evans, Mark Sweet
Editors: Brian and Robyn Bargh
Format: Paperback (ebook is also available)
Publication: Nov 2016
Reviewer: Chris Reed, Macleans College, Auckland
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Opening sentence: None of them had expected Toi to be any good as a weaver, because, like his body, his fingers were short and square. From A Small Light by Briar Grace-Smith.
You can buy this book here