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About the book
  • Published: 1 June 2012
  • ISBN: 9781869798864
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 176

A Fish In the Swim of the World


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Afffecting, evocative memoir by one of New Zealand's finest Maori writers.

Afffecting, evocative memoir by one of New Zealand's finest Maori writers.
‘This is a book of memories. Some of them are my own. Some of them belong to others. They are as true and as fallible as any memories—distorted by time and distance and a writer’s choice of words…’ In the debut memoir that kickstarted a writing career that has spawned 17 books, including many award-winners, Ben Brown writes of a quintessentially New Zealand way of living that may not change the world or even ripple its waters, but is replete with meaning.

Gathered from the tobacco-green valleys of the Motueka River where he grew up during the 1960s and 1970s, Brown’s memoir is rich with a sense of place, of family. The strands of his parents’ lives reach from Outback Australia and the hardship years of the Great Depression and World War II, to the Waikato heart of the Kingitanga and a re-emergent people, to a time and place where ‘tobacco was king’ and a small farm by a river was the sum of all ambition.

Each story, each portrait, resonates with the dignity, warmth and understated humour of a fine new poetic voice.

  • Pub date: 1 June 2012
  • ISBN: 9781869798864
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 176

About the Author

Ben Brown

Ben Brown, author of the evocative memoir A Fish in the Swim of the World, also writes children’s books, non-fiction, and short stories for children and adults, many of which have strong New Zealand nature themes. Many of his children’s books are illustrated by his wife, Helen Taylor. He was born in Motueka, New Zealand, in 1962, and lives in Lyttleton, New Zealand. Their Te Reo edition of Fifty-Five FeathersNga Raukura Rima Tekau Ma Rima — was shortlisted for the 2005 LIANZA 2005 Book Awards; the English-language edition was shortlisted for the 2005 Russell Clark Award. Booming in the Night won Best Picture Book at the 2006 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards and was a 2006 Storylines Notable Picture Book. Brown was awarded the 2011 Maori Writers’ Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre. Since 1992 he has been a writer and publisher, previously working as a tobacco farm labourer, market gardener and tractor driver.

The New Zealand Post judges report described A Booming in the Night as ‘a captivating, polished and deceptively simple package — a pictorially stunning book with an educational message that also manages to capture the cheeky personality of one of our endangered bird species’. The book also made the 2006 Storylines Notable Picture Book list.

Denis Welch, reviewing the autobiographical A Fish in the Swim of the World in The New Zealand Listener, found it ‘a cut above most autobiographies, giving us a vivid picture of hard-working rural life and a wonderful portrait gallery of farm people and family characters'. The book has been recorded by, and aired on, Radio NZ National.

Brown has said of his memoir: ‘A Fish in the Swim of the World operates on the premise that ordinary people have worthwhile and interesting stories to tell. Characters and events that shape them seem somehow within reach. We can empathise with them. We can engage. There is the notion that a life lived in a certain way has meaning, has significance, though it may not change the world, nor even ripple its waters. And there is a desire to explore a uniquely New Zealand experience within these ideas.’

Also by Ben Brown

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Praise for A Fish In the Swim of the World

“…a wonderful portrait gallery of farm people and family characters.”

Denis Welch, NZ Listener

“… a setting-down of memories that have been passed around, cherished, retold and polished … Brown’s writing is always atmospheric and interesting.”

Trevor Angnew, Press

“… may be the only one [book] in the world with something good to say about tobacco.”

Jacquetta Bell, Nelson Mail


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