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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Eleanor Catton raises eyebrows

Bro Steve phoned early yesterday morning to say that talkback radio was on fire.

That is, the redneck channel 1ZB.  The hosts (perhaps) and the callers (definitely) were all upset that Eleanor Catton, a Booker prizewinner who also happens to be a Kiwi, vented about the prize being considered "New Zealand's" accomplishment instead of her actual personal award.

I can certainly understand that.  Sports stars have much the same problem. Look at the All Blacks! And what about Sam Neill?  Is his huge reputation as an actor his own accomplishment, or New Zealand's? And what about the Olympics, and the constant irritating announcement that "we" have won so many medals?

It varies from case to case, of course, but Eleanor Catton might have a good point that her hours of struggling with words ended up as "New Zealand's Booker Prize." Which just ain't fair.

Oddly, she also attacked the so-called "Tall Poppy Syndrome," where New Zealanders who make it overseas are cut down to size back home.  This is a long-held theory, but how is it, then, that New Zealanders who have made an international reputation (and not just in authorship) are being feted at the upcoming Taipei International Book Fair - and being sent there with wholehearted publisher and governmental support?

I strongly suspect that some tall-poppy-hacking journalist took her remarks out of context and out of order.  For instance, it was also reported that she had a go at our "neo-liberal" government, which is fair enough, politicians being up there for public hammering, that being what they campaigned for.  "But," bleated our prime minister (who almost certainly has not read the book), "we were voted in by an approving public, with a resounding majority."

Something else that was mentioned by Eleanor Catton in this seemingly disjointed speech was the fact that her Booker-winning book, The Luminaries, did not get the Big Prize (Book of the Year) in last year's New Zealand Post Book Awards.  Instead, it "just" got the fiction award.

Really?  I'm all for free speech, but this does sound as if some journalist made a leading question, or worse still, put the words into her mouth.

But never mind. Life goes on.  And HERE is what it is all about.

And here is the brilliant Tom Scott's cartoon, which says it all.

(For those who don't know what "hua" means, it is a gross insult, shortened from the Maori for "boiled head.")

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