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


1 Kāwai by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $39.99)

“My new novel Kāwai portrays Māori  society in the 1700s and kaitangata – referred to as cannibalism in ethnographic literature – was very much a part of that society. To ignore it in the novel would be to be unfaithful to what I know about this period…. Some commentators have written that Māori never pursued the practice from love of it, but to gratify revenge on enemies. That may be true, but there are instances in our oral traditions which point to the killing and consuming of individuals who were less than traditional enemies. I guess it depends on how you define the term enemy or hoariri as one would say it in Māori (angry friend)”: from a fascinating essay by the author, published at ReadingRoom on Monday.

2 Kāwai by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $49.99)

The hardback version! This might be a first, for a New Zealand publisher to issue paperback and hardback formats of the same title at the same time; a first, too, for it to be so immediately successful.

Really good cover.

3 Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)

4 Poor People With Money by Dominic Hoey (Penguin Random House, $37)

Very few New Zealand novels dare to be funny – the only other example in this week’s chart is at number 10 – but to be daring is second nature to Hoey, whose novel is propelled by very funny chapter headings such as “So yeah, fuck doctors” and “Where’s my nasi goreng?” and “Boring!”

5 Return to Harikoa Bay by Owen Marshall (Penguin Random House, $37)

“Loneliness is a form of pain, but not of the variety that prevents observation and comprehension, that narrows everything to fretful self-absorption. At least that’s what he thought as he sat in the Koru Lounge and waited for his boarding call”: so begins the short story “Koru Club”, from the master’s latest collection.

6 Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick (Penguin Random House, $36)

7 Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers, $35)

8 The Wrong Woman by J.P. Pomare (Hachette, $36.99)

9 A Message for Nasty by Roderick Fry (Awa Press, $40)

10 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

The author, with Harry Ricketts, is judge of Nine to Noon’s Short Story Competition. Entries close on  September 30. The top five winners will be announced on October 28, and those stories will be “purchased” by RNZ and recorded and broadcast on Nine to Noon in November. ReadingRoom has asked Radio New Zealand for details of the “purchase” – last year they tried to get away with not paying a red cent for the contest, eventually coughing up $350 to the five writers who made the shortlist –  but they did not respond.


1 Yes, Minister by Christopher Finlayson (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Tara Black and her pencil kit were on hand to draw the author in conversation with Kim Hill recently at the WORD Christchurch literary festival: “I was basically a failure as a politician,” he deprecated.

2 Ross Taylor: Black & White by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press, $49.99)

“Taylor emerges most fully formed when the book turns to the workplace machinations, thwarted hopes and structural unfairness that constitute an accompanying narrative to Taylor’s cricket career. ‘You’re half a good guy, Ross,’ he recalls that a teammate used to tell him, ‘but which half is good? You don’t know what I’m referring to.’ Taylor – with a Samoan mother and a Pākehā father – was convinced he knew exactly”: from an excellent review by James Borrowdale.

3 Sons of a Good Keen Man: In the shadow of Barry Crump by The Crump Brothers (Penguin Random House, $38)

“A blathering, often unhappy collection of oral histories told by Crump’s six sons…It’s a book of anger and grief, of confusion and a quest for peace. It’s an emotional read and a valuable document of the damage caused by that restless, rooting species, the Kiwi male. There are large and resonant issues in Sons of a Good Keen Man about New Zealand fatherhood, or at least mid-20th Century fatherhood – a generation of absent Dads who drank too much piss and regarded the pram in the hallway as the death of masculinity”: from my review, published on Thursday.

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

5 Better, Bolder, Different by Kate Hall (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)

Sustainable living self-helper; fun and frisky cover.

6 Owning It by Brad Smeele (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)

7 Everyday Favourites by Vanya Insull (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)

8 Miss Polly’s Kitchen by Polly Markus (Allen & Unwin, $45)

9 Grand by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin Random House, $35)

After a round of media interviews, most exhaustively with me for ReadingRoom, and a series of appearances at literary festivals, the author needs someone special to stop her from saying the same old stuff about her book, and come up with new insights – and that someone special is due to chair her at the Queenstown Writer’s Festival held on November 11-13. The festival’s inspired choice of chair is this week’s bookcase star, the singular Marcus Lush.

10 Yum! by Nadia Lim (Nude Food, $55)

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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