Alice Tawhai

ANZL Member


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’.



Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer 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.

Bibliography: Alice Tawhai




Dark Jelly  (Short stories: Huia, 2011)

Luminous  (Short stories: Huia, 2007)

The Festival of Miracles  (Short stories: Huia, 2005)



Grim(M) Fairy Tales for Aotearoa/New Zealand (Goethe Institute, 2015)

The Auckland University Press Anthology of New Zealand Literature  (Auckland UP, 2012)

Griffith Review 30  (Annual Fiction Addition, 2010)

Lost in Translation  (Random House, 2010)

Landfall  (Spring Edition, 2009)

Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (Penguin, 2009)

Second Violins (Random House, 2008)

The Best of New Zealand Fiction No. 5 (Vintage, 2008)

Some Other Country (VUP, 2008)

Get on the Waka (Reid, 2007)

The Best of New Zealand Fiction No. 3 (Vintage, 2006)

'Character to some extent is much a construction of the reader as it is of the writer.' - Lloyd Jones

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