Tainui waka at Raglan, New Zealand 1992
Photo of Waikato by PhillipC used under a Creative Commons license.

Patricia Grace, Potiki (Penguin, 1986).
A novel about a small coastal community, a Maori whanau. Grace draws on Maori oral storytelling traditions to alternate deftly between several narrators, primarily the couple of Roimata Kararaina and her husband, Hemi Tamihana, and their child, Toko.  In the first part of the book, Grace portrays the daily life of the community.  The second part brings economic dislocation, as Hemi loses his job and the way of life is threatened by development.  In the third part, the Maori struggle back — storytelling being part of the fight. The novel won the New Zealand Book Award for fiction in 1987.  Grace recently was named the 2008 laureate of the Neustadt International Prize for literature.

Here is a biography of Grace.  Paloma Fresno Calleja interviewed Grace (.pdf). Mark Williams discusses Grace’s work as part of a Maori renaissance. Joy Harjo has been reading Grace. This 1993 paper by Miriam Fuchs might be too academic for some. The Constructivist shares his student reactions to the book.

Buy it at Amazon.com.