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


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

Absurdly, and embarrassingly for just about everyone involved, Auē won the 2020 Ngaio Marsh award for best crime novel, despite the bleedingly obvious fact it’s not a crime novel. It’s a novel with crime in it. Kind of basically like Franz Kafka’s The Trial is a novel with a supposed crime in it but if you called it a crime novel you’d look stupid.  Anyway, the Ngaio panel are at it again, with the shortlist for the 2021 fiction awards, announced this week: there’s Tally Stick by Carl Nixon, there’s Sprigs by Branavan Gnanalingham, there’s Dance Prone  by David Coventry and none of them are crime novels. Enough. What’s the point of the Ngaio Marsh awards when it sets out to demean itself?

2 The Author’s Cut by Owen Marshall (Penguin Random House, $36)

“There are 20 stories, chosen by Marshall from his 13 previous works, and the most striking feature of the collection is its extraordinary range of tone. The explosive opener is followed by benign character studies, warm and often comic depictions of ordinary people and their complex relationships”: from a review by Charlotte Grimshaw this week at ReadingRoom.

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

4 Loop Tracks by Sue Orr (Victoria University Press, $35)

5 Blood on Vines by Madeleine Eskedahl (Squabbling Sparrows Press, $34.95)

6 Rangikura by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press, $25)

“Tibble is fun, brash, colourful and loud. Rangikura is an immersive trip”: claims made by a poetry reviewer in the Otago Daily Times.

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

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

9 The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press, $35)

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


1 Labour Saving by Michael Cullen (Allen & Unwin, $49.99)

My favourite detail of any New Zealand political book is in Colin James’ 1973 biography of Norman Kirk, when he describes how the Prime Minister went out with his rifle, shot a rabbit, skinned it, and presented it to James to cook in the pot for a stew.

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

3 Matariki by Rangi Matamua (Huia Publishers, $35)

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

5 Tikanga by Francis Tipene & Kaiora Tipene (HarperCollins, $39.99)

6 Mental Fitness by Paul Wood (HarperCollins, $36.99)

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

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

“We get in her little green car (‘People are always trying to name it Lettuce and Kermit and things’) and she drives us up the street, past the suburban cafes of Plimmerton, makes a left turn and the blue water is running alongside us suddenly, the sea ‘from mirror to monster and everything in between’, as she describes it in From The Centre: A Writer’s Life, her new memoir”: from a wonderful profile of the author by good old Noelle McCarthy at ReadingRoom.

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

When I was on Jesse Mulligan’s Radio New Zealand show on Wednesday, the subject of Kiran Dass’s masterful review in Metro of The Mirror Book came up, and Jesse jokingly suggested there should be a literary award for best review of Grimshaw’s widely reviewed memoir. He’s right. I hereby announce the finalists for best review of The Mirror Book are: Kiran Dass in Metro, Rachael King in Kete, and Philip Matthews in ReadingRoom. The winner will be announced next week.

10 A High Country Life by Philippa Cameron (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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