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About Backyard Books NZ

In case it’s not entirely clear, Backyard Books NZ is about New Zealanders researching and raising the profile of books from our own backyard.

I believe we can promote both New Zealand writing and popular fiction in general by contributing to the academic depth with which such writing is received and shared.

I’ve tried to organise this blog according to both the authors and the themes that interest me.  That way, if we have a mutual interest, you should be able to join in on my thinking where you want.  Honestly? At times, its like a director’s cut of quotes and references to which I will return when I get a chance – or an electronic storage locker – so that could be confusing for some!  In any case, there are too many things I’m wondering about to follow all of them comprehensively, but some of the projects I keep returning to include:


  • How is our cultural approach to elders demonstrated in our fiction?
  • What forms of support seeking are modeled to readers in YA Lit?
  • What’s with wizards and other magical stereotypes in literature?
  • How is violent conflict presented in literature for younger readers?
  • How are violence and democracy connected in such literature?
  • How is resilience / happiness modeled in literature for YA?
  • How does space theory inform readings of literature for YA?
  • How is history shared/shaped through fiction?

Otherwise, what does a reader of blogs need to know? Ask away…

“Interests are constitutive of our knowledge”

~ Terry Eagleton

  1. is the poetry girl by Beverley Dunlop a true story?

  2. I have no idea! It could be based on the author’s experiences, but it reads like fiction…

  3. Dear Sarah,
    This is a really admirable project and a rich resource. I was pleasantly surprised to see a quotation from the opening of my essay “The Flâneur in Exile” in the “Literary Resources” section of your blog. What readers might not realize is that the essay focuses on Chinese poet Yang Lian’s work written during his exile in Auckland, New Zealand. Hilary Chung and I collected some of this writing in the book Unreal City: A Chinese Poet in Auckland (Auckland UP) a few years ago. You might also be interested to know that a revised version of “The Flâneur in Exile” forms the opening chapter of my book A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature, due out this month from Fordham University Press. For more on this book, see

  4. Wow – thanks for that!!!

  5. Thank you for sharing the NZ Herald article on my TELESA series-YA fantasy romance inspired by Pacific mythology.

  6. Hi – all good! It’s pretty great to see YA lit being set in the islands – I’m looking forward to reading them!!!

  7. Hello! I can’t comment on the appropriate post re LibraryThing, but just to say that there is a wealth of informed,friendly and engaged NZ readers there and it was, in fact, through LibraryThing that I first heard of your blog! Enjoy your browsing there, it really is a fascinating imagined community. Regards, Em.

  8. cheers Em – yeah I got sick of saying no to all the viagra ad comments… not sure how to fix it except switch it off! thanks 🙂

  9. Indeed! As a motto “just say no!” works well in theory, but is a pain in reality! Anyway, I hope you consider joining LibraryThing, it’s given me hours of pleasure over the years, as well as helping me deal with just how many books I own! Em

  10. Hey, this is a great project, some really interesting topics covered. Not sure where you’re based, but I’m wondering if you might be interested in doing a presentation at NerdNite Auckland at some point? Cheers, Lisa

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