Pacific books round up

From Michael Fitzgerald’s debut novel about the last days of Robert Louis Stevenson, The Pacific Room, to a collection of plays from some talented Pacific playwrights, there should be something you or a loved one might be interested in reading. 




The Pacific Room by Michael Fitzgerald


'Do I look strange?' These were his last recorded words. That night Sosimo kissed his hands and laid them across his breast, knitting his fingers together like flowers.


The next morning the household watched his coffin, held aloft by a dozen brown hands, disappear into an ocean of leaves. Every now and then, at a turn of the mountain, it would emerge from the trees, bobbing higher and higher, floating free.


This remarkable debut novel tells of the last days of Tusitala, 'the teller of tales', as Robert Louis Stevenson became known in Samoa where he chose to die.


In 1892 Girolamo Nerli travels from Sydney by steamer to Apia, with the intention of capturing something of Jekyll and Hyde in his portrait of the famous author. Nerli's presence sets in train a disturbing sequence of events.


More than a century later, art historian Lewis Wakefield comes to Samoa to research the painting of Tusitala's portrait by the long-forgotten Italian artist.


On hiatus from his bipolar medication, Lewis is freed to confront the powerful reality of all the desires and demons that R. L. Stevenson couldn't control. Lewis's personal journey is shadowed by the story of the lovable Teuila, a so-called fa'afafine ('in the manner of a woman'), and the spirit of Stevenson's servant boy, Sosimo.


Set in an evocative tropical landscape haunted by the lives and spirits which drift across it, The Pacific Room is both a love letter to Samoa and a lush and tender exploration of artistic creation, of secret passions and merging dualities. 

Get a copy here.


Samoan Odyssey: A Life Story by Papaali’i Dr Semisi Ma’ia’i



Samoan Odyssey takes us on a journey through the Pacific diaspora.


Throughout the second half of the twentieth century thousands of Samoans left their island homes to live in far-flung countries.


They went for self-betterment although they were among their nation’s best. Semisi Ma`ia`i was one of the first of his generation to make this journey.


Semisi left Samoa to pursue a career in medicine in New Zealand, his journey took him away from his homeland but it returned him to his people.


His medical practice drew Pacific people from many miles around and he was able to negotiate language and cultural difficulties for his patients.


Here, Dr Ma'ia'i tells his life story, recounting his journey, the struggles and joys of being part of the diaspora, his family life and views on the world we now live in.


Get a copy here


Talanoa: Four Pacific Plays



A collection from five playwrights who interweave Pacific languages with English. Masters in the art of comedy and real-life theatre, these contemporary voices shine a light on the lives of Pacific peoples, their culture and identity in New Zealand.


My Name Is Pilitome by Vela Manusaute.


Filimoana’s parents left Niue for New Zealand in 1976 and never returned. Thirty-eight years later, a reluctant Fili G travels to Niue for a hilarious journey of discovery. In Vela Manusaute’s My Name is Pilitome the secret is … don’t fake it, just cut it!


Sai ē Reunion by Lolo Fonua.


Mele, an innocent Tongan teen, has just arrived in New Zealand and is taken under the wing of her two worldy-wise cousins. Sai ē Reunion by Lolo Fonua tells a story of the struggle to both hold onto the traditional way of life and gain acceptance in the Big Smoke.


Gaga: The Unmentionable by Louise Tu`u.


An original work that plays with language and the conventions of live theatre. Tu`u explores the ways people connect through communication and cultural barriers, and the frustrations and comedy that arise along the way.


Inky Pinky Ponky by Leki Jackson-Bourke & `Amanaki Prescott-Faletau. Everyone’s talking about Lisa, the hot new Tongan fakaleiti who has just started at St Valentine’s High School, even Mose, captain of the First XV. But jealousy and prejudice lurk everywhere.


Get a copy here


Their Finest Hour by Andrew Marmont


The story of the Rugby League World Cup, vividly brought to life with first-hand stories from the players, coaches and administrators who were behind the big moments.


More than sixty years ago, Paul Barrière decided to host rugby league's first ever World Cup tournament. An enthralled Parisian public stood on concrete bleachers as their country fought gallantly in the final after suffering total rugby league abolishment a few years earlier. Each of the four teams lacked resources and money, with Britain not having cash to employ a coach or make their team blazers.


Fast-forward to 2017 and the game's elite have access to sports scientists, earn high six-figure salaries and train in English Premier League-style facilities. Spectators can sit in lavish corporate boxes or the comfy surroundings of top-class stadiums, as global sponsors add their support behind a tournament that has set new standards in sporting excellence.


From Great Britain training with a sock wrapped in a vest, Graeme Langland's 'try that wasn't', the violent 1960s, how New Zealand got Wayne Bennett, Wales and USA's gallant performances and England's epic semi-final against the Kiwis, this is a narrative of what made the World Cups so enthralling.


From interviewing rugby league's biggest names like Johnny Whiteley, Wally Lewis, Dean Bell and Glenn Lazarus to master coaches such as Clive Griffiths, Ricky Stuart and Frank Endacott, Marmont brings together an exciting mixture of stories, anecdotes and interviews that will appeal to both rugby league supporters and anyone who loves a good sporting read.


Get a copy here


O Le Meaalofa mo Ana / A Gift for Ana by Jane Va’afusuaga


Available both in English and Samoan A Gift for Ana is an illustrated book about a young girl’s first night in Samoa and meeting her grandmother for the first time.

Get a copy of both translations here