In the Prose Bundle
Hailman (2021), by Leanne Radojkovich. What to do when the past crashes into the present? It can happen anywhere: in carports and kitchens – on stairwells – at the airport. Set in Aotearoa New Zealand’s small towns and cities, these ten stories by Leanne Radojkovich dissect moments where the protagonists are confronted with truth and must decide whether to stand, fall or run.
Leanne Radojkovich’s writing is full of crisp, precise details, and often contains a sting. In Hailman, the follow-up to her 2017 debut First fox, the stories still have a dreamy, mythic feel, but are now rooted more firmly in the dusty suburbs and countryside of Aotearoa.
“All the rest home doors have name tags. Mum’s has a typo: Irina. Although Irena isn’t her born name – only she knows what that is, and she’s never told, never discussed the war. Says she was born the day she reached Wellington harbour with papers stating she was a ten-year-old Polish orphan. Dad said not to ask about the European years, and my brother and I never did. Now they’ve both died and there’s just me and Mum, and she’s in a rest home with a mis-spelled name on her door.”
Page count: 97 | Publication date: 14 May 2021 | Paperback ISBN: 9781912915705
Tiny Moons (2020), Nina Mingya Powles. A collection of essays about food and belonging. Nina Mingya Powles journeys between Wellington, Kota Kinabalu and Shanghai, tracing the constants in her life: eating and cooking, and the dishes that have come to define her. Through childhood snacks, family feasts, Shanghai street food and student dinners, she attempts to find a way back towards her Chinese-Malaysian heritage.
“We must have been fourteen or fifteen, eating burgers at our favourite expat American diner in Shanghai, licking salt and ketchup off our fingers. We were best friends: two half-Chinese girls, one with hair darker than the other, one a little taller, both with our nails painted black. An older white man came up close to our table. ‘You two must be hungry girls,’ he said, raising an eye-brow and walking on. We stared after him, mouthed What the fuck. Then we looked at each other and started to laugh because we didn’t know what he meant exactly, only that it was true.”
Page count: 96 | Publication date: 27 February 2020 | Paperback ISBN: 978-1-912915-34-7
The Secret Box (2017), Daina Tabūna. On the cusp of womanhood, the heroines of The Secret Box are constantly confronted with the unexpected. Adult life seems just around the corner, but so are the kinds of surprise encounter which might change everything.
“When I started going to school, I prayed: ‘I promise to always study hard, God, and please make it so we don’t have to go to Baba’s place anymore.’ This was after another boring visit featuring rock-hard little spice cakes. Among other things, Baba had started fighting with my parents yet again. ‘You want to drive me into the grave! One day you’ll drive me into the grave!’ she slurred, upset. I didn’t understand what the argument was about, and nor did it interest me – all I wanted was for it to be over. Deals with God, which Baba had started me on, were turning against her.”
Page count: 104 | Publication date: 5 October 2017 | Paperback ISBN: 78-1-910139-90-5