Alice Tawhai is a short fiction writer whose poetic stories give voice to fringe characters, to Maori, and minority lives and culture. Her three short story collections, published through Huia, include: Festival of Miracles (2005), an extraordinary rainbow of cosmopolitan New Zealand characters, Luminous (2007), which describes that bittersweet combination, the darkness and beauty of contemporary life, and Dark Jelly (2011), which explores the nature of reality, and people living on the fringe of society. ‘The power of Tawhai’s writing,’ Philippa Jamieson (NZ Listener) wrote, ‘is in its simplicity and its dreamlike quality. The dialogue saunters out of people’s mouths, full of colloquialisms. While much of the language is everyday, it’s spangled with metaphor and poetry’.
Alice’s stories and collections have drawn literary accolades. Luminous was shortlisted for the Montana Book Award for Fiction (2008). The NZ Listener judged Festival of Miracles as one of the ten best books of 2005. In the Montana Book Awards, judges regarded this collection as one of three deserving candidates for the Best First Book Award for Fiction (2006).
Alice’s work has been anthologised widely in New Zealand, including Lost in Translation: New Zealand Stories, and Some Other Country: New Zealand’s Best Short Stories 4th edition. She has been published in literary journals in New Zealand and Australia. She has also contributed to the Goethe-Institut New Zealand’s Once Upon a Time, a collaborative online project for contemporary New Zealand fairy tales.
A private person, Alice Tawhai is a pen name for an author who prefers to let her writing speak for itself. This she has achieved. As reviewer Louise Wareham said of Festival of Miracles: ‘Tawhai writes like a dream’.
New Zealand Book Council profile page
Dark Jelly Radio New Zealand interview (24 June, 2013)
Booksellers Association review of Dark Jelly (22 Sep, 2011)
The NZ Listener review of Dark Jelly (24 Dec, 2011)
The NZ Listener article on Alice Tawhai (28 June, 2008)
Short story (celebrating Grimm’s Fairy Tales, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut New Zealand.