Taylor, Chad

Taylor, Chad


Primary publisher
Jonathon Cape (UK), Christian Bourgois (France)

In Brief

Chad Taylor is a writer of contemporary short and long fiction. His novels and short stories often focus on urban transience and the shifting realities of the modern city. Unreliable or unattractive narrators are common in his writing which often deviates from the premises of genres such as futuristic fantasy, murder mystery and romance triangle. His work has a strong visual quality and often employs filmic devices and structures. Taylor is a full-time writer, based in Auckland.


Taylor, Chad (1964– ), is a writer of uncompromisingly contemporary short fictions of transience and shifting realities in the modern city.
Born and educated in Auckland, where his work is largely set, he graduated BFA at Elam and has carried that interest into the strong visual quality of his writing.

His stories have been published in Landfall, Metro and Sport and anthologised in Michael Gifkins’s Lust and elsewhere. Published volumes are Heaven (1994), Pack of Lies (1994), both novellas, and The Man Who Wasn’t Feeling Himself, short stories (1995).

The fictions often work on the edge of such conventions as the murder story (‘No Sun, No Rain’), futuristic fantasy (‘Somewhere in the 21st Century’) or romance triangle (Pack of Lies, ‘Calling Doctor Dollywell’), often through unreliable or unattractive narrators.

As these literary norms are subverted, perceptions of reality and identity are challenged. Strong visual representations, especially of sex and clothing, and filmic treatment with fragmentary and mobile scenes and chronology, provide metaphorical access to these internal concerns.
Taylor has written for film, including the script ‘Funny Little Guy’ (1994). A full-time writer, he lives in Auckland.


Comments on Companion entry

Heaven is a novel, not a novella. (Information from author.)


In 1998, Taylor's novelHeaven was made into a feature film by Miramax. The film was produced by Sue Rogers, directed by Scott Reynolds and starred Martin Donovan.

Chad Taylor was awarded a Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship in 2001.

Shirker was published by Canongate in 2000. 'Ambitious, and weaving a seductive web of existential anomie, is Chad Taylor's Shirker, a fascinating and obsessive novel... Ellerslie Penrose, a part-time futures broker, finds a junkie's body in an Auckland dumpster, steals his wallet and embarks on a hallucinatory journey into the shadow life of the dead man. This brings him into contact with fantasy bordellos, mysterious manuscripts, bizarre antiques dealers, and a sleazy nest of quirky happenstance. Oddly detached from its subject matter, this is as hypnotic as they come.' The Guardian (UK).

'Imagine Raymond Chandler filing from New Zealand with a little help from Anne Rice and Jean-Paul Sartre, and youre still not close to imagining the oddity of this weird, wonderful novel.' Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Entertainment Weekly (US).

Set in Auckland, Electric (2003), is about Samuel Usher, a data-retrieval specialist who drinks too much, takes too many drugs and is rapidly reaching the end of his line. By chance he meets Candy and Jules, two mathematicians, then just as suddenly they are gone and Sam is left with with a strange list of numbers and three words: ANYWAY FREEDOM GOODBYE.

Electric unveils the disturbing supremacy of digital technology and the equally disturbing infiltration of illicit drugs into everyday society, all within the darkened landscape of a broken metropolis. For Taylor, its all about the dissolution of personal identity and the crushing anomie of post-modern society, each becoming more unhinged the longer the power remains off.' Wendy Cavenett, HQ.

'This is a rare and refreshing book. Taylor composes a tricky, teasing plot out of the blackness, revealing a gloomy city where sexy ice queens reveal spines tattooed with tiny equations. The Nick Cave of New Zealand literature.' Claire Harvey, The Australian, April 19 2003.

Chad Taylor travelled to the Sydney Writers' Festival in May 2003, and was the University of Auckland Literary Fellow for 2003. In 2006, he was one of the 12 New Zealand authors who toured France for Les Belles Etrangeres 2006.

Taylors novella 'Pack of Lies' appears in Nine New Zealand Novellas, edited by Peter Simpson (Reed, 2005). This is a companion volume to Seven New Zealand Novellas.

Departure Lounge (2006), was published by Jonathan Cape (UK), Christian Bourgois (France), Europa Editions (USA) and Edizione EO (Italy). The Washington Post commented, 'Smart, original, surprising and just about as cool as a novel can get.' A review in the Houston Chronicle said, 'New Zealand writer Chad Taylor plays with the crime/noir genre for his own philosophical purposes in an open-ended way that subverts reassuring convention... Taylor in effect has taken the not-knowing at the mystery genre's core and enshrined it, occupied its amorphous territory and made of it, as in this book's emotional peak, a luminous art.'

Chad Taylor's novel The Church of John Coltrane was published by Christian Bourgois (France) in 2009. The novel is the sequel to Heaven.


Updated January 2017.