Dunedin became a UNESCO City of Literature in December 2014.
One of the criteria for becoming a city of literature is “quality, quantity and diversity of publishing in the city”. This has been proven from the wide range of material published in the city, and Dunedin is known as a city where writers, books and literature thrive.
Dunedin has been home to many writers since the 19th century, so the next time you are thinking “what will I read next?” think local! The following is a selection of contemporary fiction written by Dunedin novelists, all available at Dunedin Public Libraries:
Lives we leave behind. Maxine Alerio
In July 1915, Meg and Addie leave Wellington on board the hospital ship Maheno, bound for Egypt. Although very different in temperament, the pair discover a bond through caring for wounded soldiers in Egypt and France, and ultimately find themselves in the midst of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. Along the way Meg embarks on an intense love affair with a British surgeon.
The Silver Gaucho. Jackie Ballantyne
The Silver Gaucho is the name of a popular Argentinian television series, whose lead actor is Luis Mabon. Dunedin writer, Lockie Steel, while on a visit to Argentina to research a book, is engaged by the Mabon family to investigate the disappearance of Luis’ brother. Lockie follows the trail to New Zealand and the story weaves itself around the South Island and Argentina, with many interesting characters along the way.
Reach. Laurence Fearnley
Quinn is an artist, busy preparing for a forthcoming exhibition. She lives with Marcus, a vet, who has left his marriage to be with Quinn and is struggling with the effect this has had on his young daughter. They meet Callum, an itinerant deep-sea diver. All three characters face challenges and conflict, before reaching a form of reconciliation.
Swimming in the dark. Paddy Richardson
German immigrants Gerda and Ilse Klein live quiet lives in Alexandra, Central Otago, having escaped from Leipzig in the 1980s while it was still under Stasi rule. Both mother and daughter look forward to the summer holidays, when school teacher Ilse has her long break. Their peaceful lives are shattered when Ilse discovers one of her students giving birth, alone, at the local river. Suspecting she is a victim of abuse, the two women take the girl and her baby into their home, a courageous step which changes their lives.
The Faceless. Vanda Symon
The lives of three different people are thrown together through violent circumstances. In a moment of rage, Bradley abuses a prostitute, Billy, and then imprisons her in an abandoned warehouse. Max, a homeless vagrant, is concerned when Billy goes missing. Will Max be able to convince the police that his friend is missing, and will she be found in time?
Mistory: A Novel. Philip Temple
Set in New Zealand, this dystopian novel reveals what the not-too-distant future might look like if we ignore current issues such as climate change, peak oil, government surveillance, and pandemics. Set in Dunedin and its environs, the main protagonist is John, who is forced to re-evaluate his life after the recent death of his wife.