Festival of Miracles Alice Tawhai

ISBN: 9781869691271

Published: May 1st 2006


199 pages


Festival of Miracles  by  Alice Tawhai

Festival of Miracles by Alice Tawhai
May 1st 2006 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, talking book, mp3, RTF | 199 pages | ISBN: 9781869691271 | 9.62 Mb

Review published in the Dominion Post, 18 June 2005Festival of MiraclesAlice Tawhai(Huia Publishers, $29.99)Reviewed by Philippa JamiesonExpect to hear more from Alice Tawhai. This collection of 25 stories is her first book, and establishes her as a writer with an unmistakable talent for short fiction. She sets up a whole scenario, gets inside the heads of her characters and shows their worlds in just a few pages, with plenty of lines to read between, and things to ponder afterwards.There are celebrations here, and circuses, trips to the zoo and nights out at the pub.

And there are miracles: the magic taro that cures baby Vaaka, the patuparehe at the marae, a mermaid, and communications with extra-terrestrials.The characters inhabiting these stories are a veritable United Nations of Aotearoa: many are Maori, but there are also Chinese, Pakeha, Pacific Islanders, Lebanese, Italian and Japanese, living in a whole lot of different places in New Zealand.Tawhai is particularly adept at seeing things through the eyes of children, with a combination of innocence, acceptance, and make-believe. Dawnie captures with exquisite agony the awkwardness of a pubescent girl.

In Perfect Things, three children discover a dead body, floating beautiful and serene in a pool, but this perfect image is shattered when adults come on the scene. Precious Alice describes a co-dependent, destructive friendship between a fat girl and the beautiful but cruel Alice.The characters are real people, looking for magic in their lives, or dreaming or remembering it. But there are a fair few broken spells and disappointments.Pale Flower introduces us to Sal, who gets into his Maoritanga, goes to te reo classes and becomes Herewini, but cant stop his missus going off with a Pakeha bloke.

Of course, it doesnt help that he goes on the booze and beats her up. Tawhai is a mistress of understatement, using ordinary words to convey the main themes with subtlety:But Sal did things that got to me too. Where have you been? Id ask him. I went to a land hui last night, hed say. And today we just kicked back and discussed the issues. That meant hes been drinking. No wonder I always had to move back home… I stayed lying on the kitchen floor, and that was the end of that go with Sal.The power of this writing comes from the spaces between the words, made all the more poignant by the simple style, and leavened with a measure of whimsy.

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