This week’s biggest-selling New Zealand books, as recorded by the Nielsen BookScan New Zealand bestseller list and described by Steve Braunias.


1 Bug Week by Airini Beautrais (Victoria University Press, $30)

Oho! Great to see Bug Week claim the number one spot hot on the heels of the short story collection winning the $57,000 fiction prize at last week’s Ockham New Zealand book awards. Her publisher has whistled up a third reprint of 1000 copies to meet demand and new stock will arrive in stores on Monday or Tuesday. Do buy it; this is a writer of rare quality, bringing new vitality, not to mention wit, to the dear old short story. From a review by short story master Owen Marshall, at ReadingRoom: “Her stories are not for the faint-hearted: direct, hard hitting, satirical and sometimes accusing. Men do not come out well in most of these tales, generally appearing gross, selfish and sexually exploitative. ‘Trashing the flowers’ deals unsparingly with abuse and marital rape. ‘A quiet death’ has a harrowing description of a doctor sexually defiling the corpse of a former female patient…Stories of this quality are a pleasure to read.”

2 The Savage Coloniser Book by Tusiata Avia (Victoria University Press, $25)

Oho! Great to see this, too, so high up in the charts, hot on the heels of winning the poetry prize at last week’s Ockhams. She read one of the poems onstage at the ceremony. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sat in the front row and was among those entertained by Avia addressing James Cook as a “bitch” and advising him, “F*** you.”

3 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)

4 Cousins by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House, $26)

5 Sprigs by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson, $35)

Oho! Great to see the novel that many thought – well, I thought – would win the fiction prize at the Ockhams. It’s a book that talks to right now and right here, and deserves to gain a wider audience. Congratulations are due, too, to the publisher, Murdoch Stevens, from Lawrence & Gibson; the three other books shortlisted for the fiction prize were published by the secure monolith of Victoria University Press, while Lawrence & Gibson are a plucky independent. We will not have heard the last of either the publisher or their star author.

6 The Nine Lives of Kitty K. by Margaret Mills (Mary Egan Publishing, $34.99)

7 Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press, $35)

Oho! Great to see another novel shortlisted for the fiction prize, currently also in the shops in Britain. Chidgey is a writer of depth and sensitivity; she is major, a distinguished author, and at the top of her game with Remote Sympathy.

8 Inside the Black Horse by Ray Berard (David Bateman, $34.99)

9 Back to You by Tammy Robinson (Hachette, $29.99)

10 Goddess Muscle by Karlo Mila (Huia Publishers, $35)


1 Aroha by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

2 A High Country Life by Philippa Cameron (Allen & Unwin, $45)

3 From the Centre by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House, $40)

New memoir by the celebrated author. I ran into her at the Auckland Writers Festival and asked her how she got on with Sal Criscillo, a photographer who I recently commissioned to take her portrait. She said she liked him very much. He felt the same. I would have paid good money to go along to that shoot, in Wellington, and watch the 83-year-old author with her 82-year-old photographer.

4 The Forager’s Treasury by Johanna Knox (Allen & Unwin, $45)

5 Supergood by Chelsea Winter (Penguin Random House, $50)

6 Ralph Hotere: The Dark is Light Enough by Vincent O’Sullivan (Penguin Random House, $45)

Oho! Great to see the book that was the runaway winner of the non-ficiton prize at the Ockhams. The award makes O’Sullivan the first New Zealand author to win the prize for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. I ran into him that night and was about to inform him of his unique achievement but he beat me to it.

7 To Be Fair by Rosemary Riddell (Upstart Press, $39.99)

8 The Mirror Book by Charlotte Grimshaw (Penguin Random House, $38)

9 Hiakai by Monique Fiso (Penguin Random House, $65)

Oho! Great to see the book that won the illustrated non-fiction category at the Ockham awards.

10 Keepers by Cherie Metcalfe (Allen & Unwin, $45)

Steve Braunias is the literary editor of Newsroom's books section ReadingRoom, a noted writer at the NZ Herald, and the author of 10 books.

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