Patricia Grace is one of New Zealand's most celebrated writers. She has published six novels and seven short story collections, as well as a number of books for children and non-fiction. She won the New Zealand Fiction Award for Potiki in 1987, and was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001 with Dogside Story, which also won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Fiction Prize. Her children's story The Kuia and the Spider won Children's Picture Book of the Year. Patricia was born in Wellington and lives in Plimmerton on ancestral land, in close proximity to her home marae at Hongoeka Bay.
Previous novels by Patricia Grace- Mutuwhenua- The Moon Sleeps, Potiki, Cousins, Baby No-eyes, Dogside Story, Tu. Short story collections- Waiariki, The Dream Sleepers and Other Stories, Electric City and Other Stories, Selected Stories, Collected Stories, The Sky People, Small Holes in the Silence. Books for children- The Kuia and the Spider/Te Kuia me te Pungawerewere, Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street/Te Tuna Watakirihi me Nga Tamariki o te Tiriti o Toa, The Trolley, Areta and the Kahawai, Maraea and the Albatrosses. Non-fiction- Wahine Toa, Ned & Katina- a True Love Story.
Switching between first person and third person, this loose narrative of developers trying to build a resort on Maori land revolves around the family of Roimata Kararaina and her husband, Hemi Tamihana. Although land development is the central theme, Grace, the New Zealand author of several novels and short-story collections, is at her best portraying the lives of her characters, from their daily tasks (eel-fishing and cooking) to the stories they tell‘both real hard-luck stories and ancestral myths. While the writing here is often elegant in its simplicity (the first-person sections in particular are beguilingly direct‘``I have loved Hemi since I was five,'' Roimata announces by way of introduction) and the information about Maori life intriguing, the plot thread is often buried. Individual segments stand out because of Grace's able descriptions, but liberal use of Maori words such as papakainga and tangi with no explanation (a glossary might have helped) add to the confusion. When the conflict with ``the dollarman'' (their nickname for a Mr. Dolman, who comes to try to convince them to accept a project that includes not only a nightclub and golf course, but also ``trained whales and seals etcetera'') heats up, it moves matters along, but those sharp-edged segments can be disorienting in tandem with all the magical storytelling. This uneasy mix never jells completely, and the saga of native people suffering at the hands of an imperialist oppressor is not especially fresh. (June)