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Author Of The Week: September 13 – September 19

September 13, 2010

Stevan Eldred-Grigg [Our holdings]

Stevan Eldred-Grigg is one of the most controversial novelists and historians in New Zealand.

Born on the back seat of a speeding taxi, he grew up in suburban Christchurch. His mother, a stroppy working-class woman, had the gift of the gab. His father, careful and precise, came from a conservative ‘old family’. The varying opinions in the family led to a questioning of life, history and society. The young writer graduated with a doctorate in history from the Australian National University.

Stevan Eldred-Grigg became known first as the author of A Southern Gentry. Quick, vivid, democratic, it provoked widespread passion among thousands of readers who loved or hated the way it portrayed the wealthy landowners of colonial New Zealand. Diggers, Hatters and Whores, his latest history book, was published at the end of last year. The work aims to bring to life, through fresh accessible writing and beautiful images, the gold rushes of the nineteenth century. Diggers, Hatters and Whores has been welcomed with rave reviews: ‘simply the best’ … ‘lavishly illustrated and lively’ … ‘big, rollicking’ … ‘a tour de force … immensely readable’. Other history books written by him include: A New History of Canterbury, Pleasures of the Flesh, Working People and The Rich.

Stevan Eldred-Grigg also has become widely known as a novelist. Oracles and Miracles, his first and bestselling novel, became the first major novel by a living New Zealand writer to be published in China. Shanghai Boy, his latest novel, explores sons and fathers, passion and the immense city of Shanghai. Shanghai: a swarming metropolis of crowded streets and clouding smog, mindless and motley, complex and contradictory. ‘Age, no problem! Gender, no problem. Constellation, no problem. Body, sex, race, all no fucking problem. Feeling, you know! Feeling! That is everything.’ Other novels written by him include The Shining City, Mum, The Siren Celia, Gardens of Fire, Blue Blood and Kaput! Few contemporary New Zealand or Australian novelists have written about subjects so varied and challenging – and in such a variety of genres and styles.

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