Monday, March 19, 2018

Witi Ihimaera: His Best Stories

Witi Ihimaera: His Best Stories, by Witi Ihimaera

I was not familiar with Ihimaera's name until I came across this collection of short stories.  From what I can tell, he's pretty famous as a Maori writer (Wikipedia says he was the first published Maori novelist).  He's mostly written short stories, which are mostly about living as Maori in a Pakeha-dominated world.  This collection was selected by Ihimaera himself and contains 24 stories, so it's really packed.  The stories are arranged in chronological or thematic sections, usually in threes, and he introduces each section with a short explanation, which is great.  Since I didn't really know anything about his writing, it was nice to get some background right along with the stories.

The stories about Maori life tend to fall into three generations; some of them are set a ways back, and others are more modern.  I particularly liked "The Seahorse and the Reef" and "The Halcyon Summer" from the older generation of stories.  "Dustbins" was pretty disturbing, and "The Affectionate Kidnappers" too, in a completely different way; it was about cultural misunderstanding leading to huge trouble.

Other stories are not specifically about being Maori.  "Who Are You Taking to the Dance, Darling?" is funny, and "The Washerwoman's Children" is about school reunions with people you hated.  And "Someone Is Looking At Me" is futuristic science fiction.

A very interesting collection and I'm glad I ran into it accidentally.



1 comment:

Christina Gibbs said...

This book sounds interesting. My library doesn't have it, but they do have his novel "Whale Rider", which was made into an excellent movie in 2003.