Scoop Review of Books

Archive for November, 2009

A Ray of Hope in Fiji’s Suffering

State of Suffering: Political Violence and Community Survival in Fiji, by Susanna Trnka
Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2008. Reviewe by STEVEN RATUVA

THE DISCOURSE on Fiji’s embattled political history has often been the domain of historians, political scientists and economists and every now and then, the intellectual monotony is broken by streaks of intellectual freshness, which provide new prisms through which we can visualise the complex socio-political reality of the Fiji society. The book, State of Suffering: Political Violence and Community Survival in Fiji by Auckland University anthropologist Susanna Trnka, does just that.

The ethnographic approach shifts analysis away from the conventional broad-sweeping political narrative that political scientists and historians tend to thrive on and captures in a meticulous anthropological fashion, the living experiences and consciousness of individuals and communities, embroiled in a survival game amid the political chaos of the 2000 coup.

However, the absence of the role of the media in the book is quite conspicuous because, over the years, the media has been instrumental in reinforcing stereotypes, constructing prejudices and inflaming tension. The pattern of reporting between Indo-Fijian and indigenous Fijian journalists was quite apparent. There were indigenous Fijian reporters who were ‘embedded’ with the rebels and took a coup sympathy and justificatory stance and, on the other hand, many Indo-Fijian journalists took a ‘victimhood’ stance and were geared towards reporting the excesses of the coup.

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New Book Celebrates Music and Spirituality

What do you believe is the spiritual significance of music? A new book edited by a New Zealand-born writer explores this thought-provoking question with personal contributions from many of the world’s leading musicians and writers.

Justin St. Vincent, Director and Founder of Xtreme Music, has interviewed more than 1000 people to explore the deeper meanings of music, choosing over 100 responses to produce a cutting-edge and ground-breaking project for our music-minded generation.

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What Witi Ihimaera Could Learn from Eliot

By Scott Hamilton

The unattributed borrowings from other authors in Witi Ihimaera’s new novel The Trowenna Sea have become the literary news story of the decade in New Zealand, inviting a pompous editorial from the Herald as well as protracted arguments in the blogopshere. So far, though, the debate about Ihimaera’s novel has been framed in a very unhelpful way.

It seems to me that Ihimaera and his defenders – many of whom, like the unctuous Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Stuart McCutcheon, seem to be motivated by professional interest rather than private conviction – risk doing considerable damage to the public understanding of literature with the arguments they are using. Ihimaera and his supporters keep telling us that his unacknowledged borrowings make up only a tiny fraction of the text of The Trowena Sea – the figure 0.4% has been bandied about, though I understand that this is an underestimation – and that if only the borrowings had been noted at the back of the book then there would be no need for complaint.

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New Len Lye Book

Press Release

“Kinetic art is the first new category of art since pre-history”.

With this bold statement, uttered in 1964, Len Lye (1901-1980) left little doubt that he would hold an integral place in New Zealand’s artistic landscape. Today, the filmmaker, kinetic sculptor, painter, photographer and writer is recognised as one of the most original artists to emerge from this country.

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Ihimaera Buys Back Remaining Stock of Trowenna Sea

Press Release: Penguin Books NZ – 17 November 2009

New Zealand writer Witi Ihimaera is to purchase the remaining warehouse stock of the novel The Trowenna Sea from his publisher Penguin Group (NZ).

At the same time Penguin has announced that it is offering to take back stock from any bookseller who wishes to return the book.

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