Sunday, March 26, 2023

Bestsellers Around the World: New Zealand

I have an infrequent feature that I call Bestsellers around the World, where I take a look at what the current bestsellers in a specific country. Given that I have just spent a week on the South Island of New Zealand, it seemed like a good opportunity to look at what is selling there at the moment!

Here's the list:

Kāwai by Monty Soutar

Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi

Kāwai by Monty Soutar (hardback)

Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly

The Doctor’s Wife by Fiona Sussman

The Wrong Woman by J.P. Pomare

Poor People With Money by Dominic Hoey

Auē by Becky Manawatu

Nightshades and Paperwhites by Sophie Rogers
Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick

The first thing that caught my attention was that the same book is on the list twice! I am not sure that I have seen that before. It is common to see an author with more than one book on the list but not the same book. My attention was therefore piqued and it turns out that Kāwai is a book that I would like to read! Listen to this for a description.

This is a story of a period in NZ history that has never been told . . . It’s 1980 and a young Māori man is compelled to return to his marae on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand to learn about his family history. What follows is a fascinating insight into life in Aotearoa before the white man arrived as the young man’s elderly grand-uncle recounts the story of their ancestor, the fearsome warrior chief Kaitanga.

We first encounter Kaitanga’s father Tāwae as he awakens on a battlefield in 1734 AD, buried under a pile of corpses. Miraculously, he escapes being slain, dismembered and eaten by his enemies, though his father and uncles are not so fortunate. It is this battle that defines the future for a people whose need for retribution to assuage their grief infects multiple generations to follow.

The young chief Tāwae returns to a broken tribe, and it is his job to rebuild the strength and the fighting spirit of his people. We follow their first-born son Kaitanga as he trains hard to become one of the most incredible warriors in Māori history.

Kāwai: For Such a Time as This is not just a story of family and tribal warfare, it is also a story of love, of friendship, of a proud and resilient people who have developed a sophisticated way of living in harmony with the Gods and with the land.

Eddy, Eddy does sound interesting too! This is a novel set in post earthquake Christchurch and according to the blurb it loosely follows the plot from A Christmas Carol. One of the reviews on Goodreads also compares it to Still Life by Sarah Winman.

Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly is a debut novel set in Auckland. The title characters are brother and sister navigating the world together. It sounds really good! And interestingly, this book has also been compared to Still Life in a Goodreads review. Has that book become the book to compare too now?

The Doctor's Wife by Fiona Sussman is a crime novel by a South African born but now New Zealand author. The Wrong Woman is another crime novel, written by J P Pomare who is originally from New Zealand but now lives in Australia.

Poor People with Money by Dominic Hoey sounds grim so I am not sure it is for me.

I was already aware of the book Auē by Becky Manawatu. I first heard of it when I attended a digital session of Melbourne Writers Festival back in 2020. At the time, the book was already a year old so it is possibly a bit surprising to see it still on the bestsellers list

If there is one book on this list that I would love to read it is Nightshades and Paperwhite which is set in the New Zealand Gold Rush! Or is it Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick who writes historical fiction set in the early days of colonisation in New Zealand? Actually I would like to read both of these books. 

Have you heard of any of these books?


  1. That actually sounds like a cool book. I'd read it!

  2. I have relatives who grew up in NZ and who go back from time to time, tho settled in California now. The only book that I recall about N is Unbound by Steph Jagger, a memoir of skiing all around the world, including ski resorts in NZ.

  3. These books are all new to me. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything from there beyond Katherine Mansfield! And she died almost exactly a century ago.

    best… mae at

    1. She is definitely one of the best known authors from New Zealand

  4. I am often curious about what people in other places are reading. I like how you explore the bestseller lists in other places. I wish we had books that are popular in other places more available to us. I especially think it's important for children to do so.

    1. I've just borrowed one of these from my local library. I was pleasantly surprised that it was available.

  5. I liked the title Poor People With Money and thought I'd like to read it until I read your comments about it. I think I'll pass.

    1. I don't think it is my cup of tea either Vicki!

  6. I hadn't heard about any of these novels, but I'm glad to learn about them.

    I was in New Zealand in 1986 and picked up a copy of The Bone People. Such a powerful novel.

    1. That is definitely a Kiwi classic Joy!

  7. I've never heard of these books. It is interesting to see what's on bestseller lists in other places. Hope you enjoy Kawai!

  8. I’ve heard only of Aue, thanks for sharing these.

    1. That was the only one I had heard of too Shelleyrae!



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