WellRead’s April 2022 selection was Auē by Becky Manawatu. In the author’s words: “There is violence and sadness and mamae (pain) in Auē. There is much whakama (shame). But as I wrote the manuscript I tried to move in spirals toward light and hope. I would write through pain and darkness, always seeking hope and light. And while the pain and darkness kept coming, and whakamā kept sweeping over the people in Auē, I watched them - sometimes us - navigate towards each other. We were each other’s light, we were each other’s hope.”
Use these discussion questions to engage with the book further, whether in a book club with friends, or just on your own as you digest the story.
Reading questions for Auē by Becky Manawatu:
New Zealand fiction doesn't always makes its way to Australia. Have you read any of the country's literature before?
In response to Auē being repeatedly compared to Alan Duff's 1990 book Once Were Warriors, reviewer Tina Makereti wrote: "The expectation that Māori novels that include domestic or gang violence must be closely related is a strange view. Our writing and our writers are diverse, and there are infinite ways to tell our infinite stories." Discuss.
In the book, each character is bound within a perspective that limits what they can know about the story as a whole. What impact did this have on your reading experience?
Did you notice the glossary in the back of the book? More of this to introduce indigenous languages through fiction we reckon!
We know from the blurb that the word auē is a verb meaning to cry, howl, groan, wail, bawl, and also an interjection - an expression of astonishment or distress. Why do you think Manawatu chose this word as the book's title?
Many reviews have observed that despite the immense trauma experienced by many of the characters, there is an overwhelming sense of hope in the story. Do you agree with this sentiment?
- In her letter to subscribers, Manawatu writes about a book's capacity to offer answers and to also leave the reader with a few questions. What did Auē answer for you and what questions did you have after finishing it?
Please note, these questions were written and distributed in April, 2022.