Non-fiction by

Non-Fiction Reviews

Kyra Gillies explores some fascinating titles from our non-fiction collection
Care Work — Image by: Publisher

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice.  Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Care Work is a wonderful book about care work (as you’d expect) and disability justice. Part of what I loved about this book is how it’s broken down into chapters, each of which are a stand-alone essay. You can read the essays in the order you prefer by seeing which essay titles catch your eye. While the essays are their own writing pieces, the themes interrelate and support each other to deepen your understanding. The book is both theoretical and personal, which is a real strength. 

Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha breaks down what disability justice is, importantly how it is distinct from ‘disability rights’, whilst also gifting the reader with luscious anecdotes and personal stories. The book has a hopeful and loving vision of a world where relationships, caring for each other and ourselves is centred. 

I would particularly recommend this book for those who are interested in or passionate about disability and queer issues, anti-racism, feminism and the interconnections between. My favourite essay/chapters, that I recommend especially, are “Care Webs: Experiments in Creating Collective Access”, “A Modest Proposal for a Fair Trade Emotional Labour Economy (Centred by Disabled, Femme of Color, Working Class/ Poor Genius)”, “Making Space Accessible is an Act of Love for Our Communities”. 

As a poet and memoirist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha discusses important issues in an artistic, personable and often humorous tone, making the book all the more readable. In fact, after reading Care Work I was left wanting more of her writing style so much that I had to hunt down a copy of ‘Dirty River’ (the author’s memoir) and Bodymap (one of the author’s many poetry collections). Finally, the 10 Principles of Disability Justice written by Sins Valid (a disability justice group), included in the preface of Care Work, is worth reading and rereading. Principles such as “leadership of the most impacted”, “commitment to cross-disability solidarity” and “collective access” are well worth learning more about. 

Sand Talk — Image by: Publisher

Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World. Tyson Yunkaporta
Sand Talk feels more like a conversation than a book, which is what made it so enjoyable. Relationships and stories are at the centre: the book is a work of collective effort. It unravels and challenges dominant colonial or western approaches, particularly within the education system. The author is very conscious and critical of how inaccessible and elitist the language and culture of academia can be, and has instead created a piece that is wise without being pompous or difficult to make sense of. While reading, I got the feeling that this book would go down well with those who have appreciated Decolonising Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith. Each chapter of Sand Talk is a conversation with another person, and is accompanied by an image or symbol drawn in sand. These images relate to and illuminate the discussion, hence the title ‘Sand Talk’. The profit-driven and environmentally-destructive approach that is dominant in many colonised societies is challenged, whilst also questioning what kind of future this gives to youth, particularly indigenous youth. I appreciated the humility and passion with which the author deftly illustrates the urgent paradigm shift that is needed for good of young people, for the planet, for indigenous peoples and for all of us. 

Imagining Decolonisation — Image by: Bridget Williams Books

Imagining Decolonisation. Anna Hodge (ed.)
Imagining Decolonisation is a short book that is powerful in it’s vision. I’ve especially appreciated reading Moana Jackson’s essays and commentary on the journalism website e-tangata, so was excited to read a book which he has contributed to. The book is about imagining what decolonisation would look like in Aotearoa and how that would be achieved. The writers acknowledge from the outset the term decolonisation can get people’s heckles up; the word can spark fear, controversy or confusion. The writers generously unpack the meaning, working to demystify and to show that everyone has a stake in making a more just society. I particularly appreciated how each writer addressed a different part of the picture: beginning with how the project for the book came about, giving an overview of the impacts of colonisation on Māori whānau, hapu and iwi, exploring what decolonisation actually means, as well as looking at the place of pākehā and tauiwi in addressing the imbalance of colonisation and living by the tiriti principles of partnership and mutual respect. I appreciated how the writers provided an overview of perspectives on decolonisation from Filipina, Hawaiian, Brazilian, African American decolonial thinkers as well as from a range of Māori and Pasifika thinkers, giving a sense of how colonialism is a global issue, but also one that requires local specificity to be addressed. This is a wonderful book about identity, belonging, visioning and working towards a better future for all in Aotearoa. It will be a fruitful read for those just beginning their learning about te tiriti, decolonisation and constitutional transformation and for more seasoned folks as well. Plus, with so many wonderful writers, thinkers and change makers referenced in the book, the authors have practically given you a decolonial reading list to deepen your learning!