The only published and available best-selling indie book list in New Zealand is the top 10 sales list which is featured each week in the Unity Books stores in High St, Auckland and Willis St, Wellington.
1 Grand: Becoming my mother’s daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)
Another week of local memoir Grand at the top. Dip your toes with Noelle’s essay and Catherine Woulfe’s book editor ratingand then splash your head into McCarthy’s dark icy waters.
2 Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)
A charged love story between two young men who live in the residential areas of Glasgow, a Catholic and a Protestant. Kirkus Reviews writes that their reader was hesitant to return to the harsh world of Shuggie Bain, but the author “creates characters so vivid, dilemmas so heartbreaking, and dialogue so brilliant that the whole thing sucks you in like a vacuum cleaner.”
Is it okay to be sucked into a vacuum cleaner? You decide.
3 Propose decolonization by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
Hello again, big poppy.
4 Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers, $35)
Kurangaituku is a retelling of the famous myth, Hatupatu and the Bird Woman.
Here is essa may ranapiri from a poignant review published on this Spin-off: “Kurangaituku allowed me to see myself in te ao Māori in a way I hadn’t seen before. Kurangaituku is unequivocally queer and perhaps ambiguously a woman and certainly a storyteller. There are so many scenes in this book that have started a fire in me.”
Kura has been deservedly nominated for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, and she tops our list to win. Just a little longer: the winners of this and other Ockham awards will be announced on May 11.
5 Clara and the sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber, $23)
Ishiguro is the king of skin-tingling fiction, and his latest dystopian novel is no exception.
6 The bookseller at the end of the world by Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, $37)
A local memoir about a life of adventure, trauma, risk and bookselling. the guard sums up Ruth Shaw’s chameleon-like set of roles: “pig rancher, naval desert, solo sailor, illegal gambler, environmentalist, chef to archbishop, mental patient, failed escort. She has been arrested twice and married four times.”
Now she runs the Wee Bookshop in Fiordland, also known as the end of the world. (Content warning for rape and baby loss.)
7 Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)
Nominated for the Acorn and the only one to truly rival Kurangaituku, in our book.
Here’s a review.
8 What you can see from here by Mariana Leky (Bloomsbury, $27)
A bestselling German novel, recently released in English. Filled with omens and superstitions, German village life and the absurdity of death, Munich Mercury says that Leky’s novel “arranges something only a few books can achieve: it makes you happy.” To be honest, those don’t sound like the ingredients for happiness to us – but hey, we’re not Germans.
9 Actions and Travel: How Poetry Works by Anna Jackson (Auckland University Press, $35)
Anna Jackson explains how poetry works on the basis of 100 beautiful poems.
10 entanglement by Bryan Walpert (Makaro Press, $35)
A third shortlist of the Acorn Prize has been chosen by Auckland readers, and of them, Entanglement is arguably the toughest. Book editor Catherine Woulfe gave a less than glowing review: “I was excited because it’s published by Mākaro Press, also known as the home of Auē and Victory Park, both award winners and great reads. But entanglement? The best I can say about it is this: most likely it is a book that rewards persistence. I tried five times and couldn’t get past page 99; this year, now, very unfairly, I just don’t have any perseverance to offer.”
However, the Ockham judges liked it – this is what they said on the shortlist: “Stunningly intelligent and ambitious in scope, Entanglement spans decades and continents, explores the essence of time and delves into topics as complex as quantum physics. But the At the heart of Bryan Walpert’s novel is the human psyche and all its intricacies.A writer plagued by two tragedies in his past reflects on where it all went wrong, and his desperation leads him back to Baltimore in 1977. A novel who is not afraid to ask difficult questions, and a novelist who is not willing to patronize his readers.”
Now you just have to decide if you’re on team Woulfe or team Ockham.
1 Wellington Architecture: A Walking Guide by John Walsh & Patrick Reynolds (Massey University Press, $25)
Buy a book, take a little walk and fill yourself with new appreciation for your city.
2 Grand: Becoming my mother’s daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, $35)
3 Fragments of a Controversial Past: Memory, Denial and History of New Zealand by Joanna Kidman, Vincent O’Malley, Liana MacDonald, Tom Roa and Keziah Wallis (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
“What a nation or society chooses to remember and forget speaks to its contemporary priorities and sense of identity. If we understand how that process works, we can better envision a future with different or broader priorities.”
Another gem in BWB’s local non-fiction crown.
4 accommodate by Jenny Pattrick (Black Swan, $36)
Local writer Jenny Pattrick has released a new novel based on the settlement of Wellington in the 1830s. Three narrators paint a rich picture of the era: a Welsh immigrant and purchaser of Māori land, working for Colonel Wakefield; his wife, Martha, travels by boat to meet her husband; and a woman, Hineroa, who became a slave to Te Rauparaha after losing her tribe in battle. Local Matters gives thumbs up: “Jenny Pattrick is adept at creating warm and likeable characters and this, along with the interesting historical narrative, means this novel is a joy to read.”
5 Under our weapons by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz, $38)
Rivers of London’s new novel, hailed by The Times as one of the best in the series. the guard writes that “Aaronovitch has no equal when it comes to successfully combining the appeal of a sober police procedure with total fantasy: here are real places, real history and real problems complicated by the existence of magic, old ghosts, fairies, ghosts and talking foxes, all living next to ordinary, ignorant people.”
6 Propose decolonization by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas (Bridget Williams Books, $15)
7 Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)
8 Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, $38)
9 meat lovers by Rebecca Hawkes (Auckland University Press, $25)
This year’s Spinoff Review of Books Award for Blurbology goes unreservedly to AUP for the following:
‘Meat’ is a coming of age in which pony clubs, orphaned lambs and parlor delirium are imbued with playful menace and queer desires. Between bottle-fed care and killer barn floors, the ranch is an intoxicating setting for love and death.
In ‘Lovers’ the poet casts a wry look at romance, from youthful sapphic infatuation to seething bestiality. Sentimental intensity is anchored by an introspective comedic streak, in which “the stars are looking at us / and boys, how judgmental are they”.
This collection of sickening hunger offers a feast of explosive ground beef and cheese pies, accusatory crackles, lab-grown meats, and beet tempeh burger patties, all washed down with bloody milk or applesauce. Abounding in sensual life, from domesticated beasts to the undulating mysteries of eels, Hawkes explores uneasy relationships with our animals and with each other.
Tender and sassy, seductive and repulsive, Meat Lovers introduces a compelling new mode of hardcore pastoral.
10 Conversations with friends by Sally Rooney (Faber, $23)
The second born Rooney. Conversations launches as a Hulu series in mid-May, so we could see it lurking around the bestsellers for a while – get ready for weeks of funny commentary.