WellRead April Selection: Auē by Becky Manawatu

Introducing April's selection Auē by Becky Manawatu - an assured and enthralling debut novel that won New Zealand’s most lucrative fiction prize, the Ockham’s Jann Medlicott Acorn prize for fiction, as well as the Ngaio Marsh award for best crime novel. It has received wide acclaim in New Zealand, and has been a bestseller there since it published in 2019. And now Auē has been released here in Australia, and it is with great pleasure that we share it with you all. This is a novel that is both raw and sublime, a compelling new voice in New Zealand fiction. Below is a letter from letter author Becky Manawatu penned to our subscribers.

Dear Reader,

I’m very grateful for your interest in reading Auē. I guess I can only hope you find some precious nuggets of truth in it. For me, when I read books, I like to come away with plenty of questions answered, and a couple left unanswered. With those unanswered questions I move onto the next book. Creating a kind of flow on effect, books and their words spilling over into other books and other words. A constant process of piquing our curiosity, our desire to understand, our need to see, but never getting all the answers, always on the haerenga (journey) to understand the people of this world. 

I have felt a certain worry as Auē is released to a whole new country. I sometimes worry some readers will hope to find so many questions about Aotearoa, and its people – particularly us, the indigenous people – answered within the book. Like I said before, I can only hope you find some precious nuggets of something which is pono and tika (true and right). I can only hope I answer some questions and I wish to create as many. I hope you might seek the answers to these new questions, in other books written not only by Māori writers but first nations, right there in Australia and throughout the world. In New Zealand we are fortunate to have many Māori writers contributing to the fictional and non-fictional archive of who we are, but we remain hungry to see more.  

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.

I wish you well on your haerenga of questions, from this book to the next, and the next. Mauri ora,

Becky

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