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Laing, Sarah
Writer's File

Sarah Laing

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Laing, Sarah
In brief
Sarah Laing is a fiction writer and cartoonist. Her first collection of short stories, Coming up Roses, was published in 2007, and followed her win of the 2006 Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition. She published the novel Dead People’s Music in 2009, followed by an illustrated novel The Fall of Light, published in 2013. She is a co-editor of Three Words: An Anthology of NZ/Aotearoa Women's Comics, and her most recent publication is Mansfield and Me: A Graphic Memoir.
  • Primary publisher
    Random House (Vintage)
  • Rights enquiries
    Harriet Allan, harriet[AT]; (Mansfield and Me)
  • Publicity enquiries
    Random House,; (Mansfield and Me)


Laing, Sarah (1973 – ) was born in Champaign-Urbana in the USA, grew up in Palmerston North, and moved to Wellington at the age of seventeen. She has also lived in Germany, New York City, and Auckland and currently resides in Wellington. Laing has worked extensively as a graphic designer and illustrator, in addition to writing fiction.

Sarah Laing’s first book, Coming up Roses, was published in 2007 by Vintage and is a collection of short stories. The collection followed her win of the 2006 Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition. Paula Morris wrote in her review of the book for the NZ Listener, ‘the verve and clarity of the writing in Coming Up Roses, along with the wry, offside skewness of many of its stories, reminded me of reading Emily Perkins’s first book, Not Her Real Name, also a story collection. Laing seems to be a writer of intelligence and wit: I look forward to more stories, more books.’

Laing illustrated Paula Green’s children’s poetry book, Macaroni Moon (2009), and in the same year published Dead People’s Music. Guest reviewer Maggie Rainey-Smith writes on Beattie’s Blog, ‘I highly recommend this novel. Think somewhere between Zoe Heller and Zadie Smith. It is a book that takes itself seriously while being witty and insightful, tender and scathing, smart and innocent, fast-paced and even a little bit disgusting … The prose is utterly confident and never seems to falter.’

Laing was the Michael King Writers Centre Writer in Residence, August–November 2008.

Sarah Laing shared the 2010 Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship with Sonja Yelich, where she wrote The Fall of Light and started her comics blog Let Me Be Frank.

Sarah Laing was awarded the 2013 Michael King Writers’ Centre University of Auckland Residency.

In 2013 Laing released The Fall of Light, which features a series of ink and wash drawings interspersed throughout. The same year, she released an ebook, Inside a Pomegranate. Both were published by Random House New Zealand.

In 2016 she released her book Mansfield and Me: a Graphic Memoir (Victoria University Press, 2016), in which she tracks her own journey towards writing and publication against the life of Katherine Mansfield. Author Dylan Horricks reviewed the book and said “Sarah Laing’s gorgeous, playful drawings and self-deprecating humour lightly mask a complex meditation on writing, celebrity and the conscious construction of self. A very New Zealand coming-of-age story: brilliant, funny, thoughtful and smart.” The book has been longlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in the Illustrated Non-fiction section.

Updated: November 2016


  • Dead People’s Music book review on Beattie’s Blog
  • Sarah Laing's blog 'LET ME BE FRANK'
  • Sarah Laing talks to Radio New Zealand about an exhibtion based on Mansfield and Me
  • Sarah Laing's profile on Penguin site
  • Sarah Laing's articles on The Spinoff
  • Sarah Laing's Twitter profile
  • Sarah Laing's interview with The Listener on The Fall of Light
  • Unity Books article on the Mansfeild and Me book launch
  • Sunday Star Times article on the impact winning the Short Story Award had on Sarah Laing
  • Sunday Magazine article on Sarah Laing's writing career
  • Beatnik Publishing website
  • Booknotes Unbound interview with Sarah Laing
  • Sarah Laing's profile on the Academy of New Zealand Literature site
  • Sarah Laing's profile on the National Writers Forum site
  • Sarah Forster's review of Mansfield and Me
  • Wellington City Libraries interview with Sarah Laing
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