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Rite of Passage

Book Review
The Fell
by Robert Jenkins (RedDoor Publishing, 2019)
Reviewed by Johnny Tell

410khbegzulVery recently I posted a review for this novel on and make no apology for posting another here. It is my intention to ensure The Fell finds as wide a readership as possible. It matters that much.

The Fell is tagged as a debut novel by Robert Jenkins and RedDoor Publishing, but the quality of its craftwork suggests otherwise.  I would like  to know more about the author but his bio tells us little.

The Fell reads like a classic of literary fiction, a rite of passage that stands testing against any previous work. I suspect, in time, if it finds its feet,  it will rank alongside the likes of The Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies. Actually, for readers today, this will eclipse them. They are vanilla in comparison.

To be fair, in comparison Fight Club is tame and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest is set in a normal and well-run institution.

The Fell reeks of lived experience and is in places harsh, brutal and disturbing, but also poetic, subtle, tender and clever. I suspect for many readers it will be almost too subtle, an entire life-changing event is distilled into a single line. “I let him have me all”, is all we hear about the boy narrator’s first experience of homosexuality. A line referencing a hilariously inappropriate folk song catches you unawares until it percolates and then stuns with how very appropriate it really is. His view of old people in a park is heartbreakingly on the money.

Sometimes confusion, honesty and raw experience are encapsulated in a single word and the simplicity of language used by the young character is employed perfectly.

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Release: Young Writers’ Essay Contest

Otago University Press Media Release


Entries open for 2019 Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition

Entries are open for the Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition, an annual award open to New Zealand writers aged 16 to 21.

The competition was founded in 2017, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Landfall, New Zealand’s longest-running arts and literary journal.

The competition is named in honour of the founding editor of Landfall, the Dunedin writer, editor and benefactor Charles Brasch.

The 2019 Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition will be judged by Landfall editor Emma Neale, and the winner receives $500 and a year’s subscription to Landfall.

The winning entry will be announced and published in Landfall 237 (May 2019).

The closing date for receipt of entries is 31 March 2019.

Essays will be fully developed, independent works no more than 1500 words long, will be on a topic of the author’s choosing and will not have been published elsewhere. One entry per person will be accepted.

Writers will be New Zealand citizens or New Zealand permanent residents aged between 16 and 21 years old (as of 1 December 2018).

The winner of the inaugural 2017 competition was Andy Xie, for his essay ‘The Great New Zealand Myth’.

The 2018 winner was Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor, whose essay was titled ‘Disappearing Disease’. Landfall editor and competition judge Emma Neale said this essay ‘combines the concrete, grounding specifics of time, place and context with a broader recognition of pressing global concern’.

For more entry details please see


Release: Judges for NZ Book Awards (Children, YA)


A panel of judges combining deep knowledge of the children’s literature community with youthful wisdom and a shared passion for the transformative power of books has been selected to deliberate over entries to the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Highly respected reviewer and librarian Crissi Blair will convene the English language panel, which will also include poet and co-founding editor of The SaplingJane Arthur, author and editor Raymond Huber, teacher and award-winning writer Tania Roxborogh, and librarian Simie Simpson, previously a popular children’s publisher sales manager.


Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body representing Māori within the library and information profession, has reappointed the experienced panel of Moana Munro (convenor), Anahera Morehu and Jacqueline Joyce Snee to judge the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award, which recognises and celebrates books written or translated into te reo Māori.

The English language judges will read and appraise an expected 150 or so entries in five categories: Picture Book, Junior Fiction (the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award), Young Adult Fiction, Non-fiction (the Elsie Locke Award) and Illustration (the Russell Clark Award). They will select five finalists in each category, as well as up to five finalists for a Best First Book Award and then a winner in each category. The overall winner, the Margaret Mahy Award for Book of the Year, will be decided by both panels.

Also a judge in the 2018 awards, Crissi Blair said she was delighted to have been invited back as the 2019 convener and honoured to be working alongside such an experienced group of passionate children’s literature advocates. “We are fortunate to have a judging panel from diverse backgrounds and many different aspects of the children’s book world. I look forward to combining our skills as we explore this year’s submissions.”

The 2019 judges will once again seek input on each category during their deliberations from school advisory panels. “We found this not only to be an illuminating exercise in terms of what books interest children as opposed to adults, but it also created an opportunity for education in getting the groups to understand the criteria and to look at each book with a critical eye,” says Crissi of the 2018 process.

Submissions for the 2019 awards are now open to books published between 1 April 2018 and 30 March 2019. The first deadline, for books published up to 30 November 2018, is 13 December 2018. More details about how to enter can be found here.

Category finalists will be announced on Thursday 6 June 2019 and the awards ceremony will be held in Wellington in early August 2019, preceded by a series of large-scale finalist author events in at least three centres around New Zealand.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, Wright Family Foundation, LIANZA, Wellington City Council, Te Papa and Nielsen Book. They are supported by Booksellers NZ.

For more information about the 2019 judges, go here.

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Release: 3 Poets in Wellington

Three Poets
Maitreyabandhu, from the London Buddhist Centre, will be in conversation with Jenny Bornholdt and Bill Manhire about their life and work, New Zealand and the purpose of poetry.

City Gallery Wellington, Te Ngākau Civic Square
Tuesday 18 December, 6pm-7.30pm

All welcome. Donation entry to help cover venue costs.

Books will be for sale courtesy of Vic Books.

Release: BWB Talks on Tax

Tax Is Love: A Panel Discussion

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub inspired a flurry of reactions around the country when he declared in a column for Stuff that ‘tax is love’. In this BWB Winter Series event Shamubeel will be joined by Lisa Marriott, Jess Berentson-Shaw and chair Max Rashbrooke to debate the nature of tax: is it love or is it theft? Come along, hear the discussion, and make up your own mind.

Tuesday 27 November, 6.00–7.00 p.m.
City Gallery Wellington
Civic Square

Read more: BWB website, facebook, download an invite.

Women’s History in the Puke Ariki Collection (New Plymouth)

Join historian Barbara Brookes and Puke Arikicurators as they explore the history of New Zealand women through objects and artworks from the museum’s extensive collection. This engaging presentation will encourage us to see New Zealand’s history through a female lens: from the points of view of wives, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts.

Friday 30 November, 5.30–6.30 p.m.
Taranaki Research Centre – Te Pua Wananga o Taranaki
Puke Ariki, New Plymouth

Read more: BWB website, facebook, download an invite.


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