Time Out Books: NZ Bestsellers


For the week ending 15 May 2022





1. Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia)

And the winner is … Hereaka took home $60,000 last week as the winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize at the Ockham NZ Book Awards. A subversive, imaginative re-framing of the myth of the monster bird woman, Kurangaituku is also an audacious structural feat that can be read from the front or the back cover. Hereaka has ruled all media this week, including TV, radio and the front cover of Canvas magazine in the weekend Herald. This interview with Steve Braunias appears on Reading Room.


2. How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid (Penguin/PRH)

A second week on the chart for the multimedia talent AKA Jessica Hansell. The story of three friends surviving a long, hot Auckland summer, this is not so much a novel, Angelique Kasmara writes in Kete, but ‘more novella in volume and a connector between the genre-dissolving anarchy of zine culture and more traditional literary work.’ Read her full review here.



3. Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K. Reilly (VUP)

This novel was the winner of the Hubert Church Best First Book of Fiction at last week’s Ockhams, making Reilly only the fourth Maori writer this century to take this particular prize: the others are Paula Morris (Queen of Beauty, 2003), Kelly Ana Morey (Bloom, 2004) and Becky Manawatu (Auē, 2020). Charlotte Grimshaw describes Reilly’s exuberant debut as part of ‘the great, joyous tradition of dramatic comedies.’ Read her full review here.


4. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason (HarperCollins)

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the U.K., this is an exploration of inheritance, desire and forgiveness, it’s the ‘blisteringly funny’ story of tall, blonde, and brilliant Martha’ set from the mid 90s to 2017, ‘as she navigates life with an undiagnosed mental illness, Josie Shapiro writes on Read Close.



5. Entanglement by Bryan Walpert (Mākaro Press)

This was the dark horse on the Acorn Prize fiction list this year, a clever and demanding novel that seemed overlooked by readers compared with the more straightforward stories in contention. A ‘beautiful, stylistically adventurous and deeply philosophical work, Angelique Kasmara writes in her ANZL review. ‘Walpert has a screenwriter’s eye for foreshadowing and payoff, with the three narrative strands braiding together to form a Möbius strip, seams eventually dissolving.’ Read her full review here.




1. Grand: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin)

No movement in the nonfiction chart with this popular memoir holding fast to the top spot. It’s ‘complex, thrilling and raw’ and ‘the opposite of comfort reading,’ writes Rachael King. ‘At the heart of this book is a revelation about lines of women in families, and trauma, and how it has the potential to repeat. In fiction, in myth, we’d say we are doomed to repeat it’. Read the full review on Reading Room.


2. Aroha by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin)

Published in 2020, this compendium of one-a-week whakatauki (proverbs) continues to strike a chord. Psychiatrist Elder (Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kurī, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) discusses happiness, leadership and community. Elder talks about scientific and cultural knowledge in this interview.



3. The Mirror Book by Charlotte Grimshaw (Vintage)

The memoir sensation of 2021 was fancied as a winner at the Ockhams, but had to make way for Vincent O’Malley’s lauded history Voices from the New Zealand Wars. Grimshaw’s frank and challenging memoir is a ‘fascinating portrait of not only a family, but the writing process. How we magpie material (go and make a story out of it) and what we build from it and at whose expense?’ Read Rachael King’s full review here.


4. Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (BWB)

It lost the Illustrated Nonfiction category at the Ockham NZ Book Awards to Clare Regnault’s Dressed, but this thoughtful visual stunner continues to disprove the belief that Aucklanders aren’t interested in books about their own city. Shifting Grounds explores the deep histories of three iconic landscapes: Pukekawa (the Domain), Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) and the Ōtuataua Stonefields at Ihumātao. Anna Rankin’s review for Metro includes photography by Haru Sameshima.


5. Imagining Decolonisation by Biance Elkington, Moana Jackson, Rebecca Kiddle, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton, Amanda Thomas (BWB)

This landmark collection of essays was first published in May 2020, and almost two years on it remains essential reading on history, tikanga, law, politics, our Pacific relationships and envisaging the future. The great Moana Jackson died in March: read some reflections on his legacy at e-tangata.


'I started to feel very guilty, as though I’d perpetrated a crime, a rort' - Stephanie Johnson

Read more