Scoop Review of Books

Archive for July, 2017

Rare Ingredients

Book Review
Oklava: Recipes from a Turkish-Cypriot Kitchen, by Selin Kiazim (Hachette/Octopus, $39.99)
Reviewed by Alex Beattie

oklava_cover_hiresGlobalisation is a funny thing when it comes to food. These days you can get a decent ramen in Auckland, a passable flat white in London, and a tasty curry just about anywhere. This was on my mind when I chose to review Oklava, a modern Turkish-Cypriot cookbook, in my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand.

Oklava is Turkish for rolling pin — and is also the name of Selin Kiazim’s popular restaurant in Shoreditch, London. The restaurant opened in 2015, and not long after, I was lucky to be taken there for my 30th birthday. My partner and I were both wowed and came back a second time for brunch. This time it was even better: between the kofta pastries and Kiazim’s signature medjool date butter, we were hypnotized.

So when I heard Kiazim was publishing a cookbook, I jumped at the opportunity to get a closer look at her recipes. I was back in New Zealand, but how hard could it be to create Turkish-Cypriot cuisine on the opposite side of the world?

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Release: New NZ Literary Prize

New Literary Prize for NZ Authors

Announcing a new literary prize for New Zealand writers. Entries open 28 July 2017

Text Publishing is proud to announce the Michael Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Novel, an exciting new award for writers holding New Zealand citizenship or who are permanent residents of New Zealand.

Thanks to a generous financial commitment from Ann Hatherly and André Gifkins, the partner and son of the late Michael Gifkins, and from Text Publishing, the winner will receive a contract for world rights from Text, and an advance to the value of NZ$10,000.

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Release: Lowlife, short stories

Lowlife: Short Stories by Michael Botur


lowlife-cover-webA Whangarei writer says ‘working poor’ experiences he has had as part of Generation Rent inspired his latest short story collection.

Michael Botur released Lowlife: short stories on June 16. The book is Botur’s fourth collection of ‘dirty realism’ literary fiction, with the previous collections garnering strong reviews.

Many of the stories are inspired by Botur’s experiences as a student or low-paid white collar worker in Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington or Auckland, although Botur now lives in Northland.

Botur, 33, says most of the characters in the stories are aged under 35 and were largely inspired by Generation Rent’s working poor population, ie. The population who are paid too little and have costs too high to save money or invest in a house.

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‘Unacceptable Choices’

Book Review | BWB Texts
The Whole Intimate Mess: Motherhood, politics, and women’s writing
by Holly Walker (BWB Texts, paper $14.99; e-book $4.99)
Reviewed by Alison McCulloch

bwb1000_walker_the_whole_intimate_mess_tip_aw-1When I saw Holly Walker, MP, speak at a meeting in Tauranga, I remember thinking how confident and together she was. That was a few years back, and she must have been barely 30 years old. “Whoa,” I thought, “I could never have done that at 30-something.” When she decided to step down as an MP, I confess to being a bit disappointed. Having read a fair bit over the years about the struggles facing women in Parliament, I had started to think that was then, this was now and things had finally changed for the better. I mean, look at Holly Walker. This book makes very clear that’s not the case.

Walker’s résumé is impressive, Bachelor’s degree, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Member of Parliament, all before she turned 30. And all of it following an origin story about her mother’s struggles as a single parent and her own lifelong dream to make sure every child in New Zealand had the kind of safe, secure, opportunity-rich childhood she’d enjoyed. It was a story that, by the time she left Parliament in 2014, she had come to doubt as inauthentic. “The reasons for this lofty ambition,” she writes, “were as much to do with celebrity and approval as they were about public service.” Holly Walker wanted to excel, to exceed expectations, to be approved of, to be liked.

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