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  • Published: 4 April 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761047145
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $37.00


Super yachts and stereotypes, #MeToo blunders and post-apocalyptic bolt holes, locking down and locking up - a thoroughly entertaining novel!

High on the Southern Alps of New Zealand lies a fallen man, like ‘a black exclamation mark on a white page, Kiwi-noir face down in the snow’. Is he still alive?

This funny, fearless, thought-provoking novel trains its sights on us.

Kerry-Anne is kind, unlike her foster sister Joleen, who is a different kind of person altogether. Being locked down for Joleen will mean behind bars.

For Kerry-Anne’s ex-husband, the National MP Lyall Hull, lockdown will also take on a new meaning when he goes on a cycle trip instead of staying at home.

From lockdown in the Bay of Islands, Kerry-Anne tries to work out what both are up to. Will anyone come up smelling of roses?

‘Johnson has always had an eye for topicality’ — Steve Braunias

  • Published: 4 April 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761047145
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $37.00

About the author

Stephanie Johnson

Stephanie Johnson is the author of several collections of poetry and of short stories, some plays and adaptations, and many fine novels. The New Zealand Listener commented that Stephanie Johnson is a writer of talent and distinction. Over the course of an award-winning career — during which she has written plays, poetry, short stories and novels — she has become a significant presence in the New Zealand literary landscape, a presence cemented and enhanced by her roles as critic and creative writing teacher.’ The Shag Incident won the Montana Deutz Medal for Fiction in 2003, and Belief was shortlisted for the same award. Stephanie has also won the Bruce Mason Playwrights Award and Katherine Mansfield Fellowship, and was the 2001 Literary Fellow at the University of Auckland. Many of her novels have been published in Australia, America and the United Kingdom. She co-founded the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival with Peter Wells in 1999. She is the 2023 recipient of the Prime Minister's Award for Literature.

The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature describes Johnson’s writing as ‘marked by a dry irony, a sharp-edged humour that focuses unerringly on the frailties and foolishness of her characters . . . There is compassion, though, and sensitivity in the development of complex situations’, and goes on to note that ‘a purposeful sense of . . . larger concerns balances Johnson’s precision with the small details of situation, character and voice that give veracity and colour’.

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Praise for Kind

It’s a cross between a satire and a thriller that pivots around – before, during and after - that strange silent period of the first lockdown in March 2020. The title echoes the fleeting surge of national collective goodwill during the shock shutdown when our then-PM urged us to be “kind.” And most of us tried. But then, as Johnson makes clear, the resilience of kindness can erode when it collides with less altruistic instincts. That transition, the tipping over from good to bad, drives Kind’s intrigue, full of surprises to the very end. What a tangled web Johnson weaves. . . . Kind ends in 2023, in the cruel world we now have to deal with. After a startling twist, it turns out that Johnson’s book is deeper than a satire, or a thriller, but something much more tender – and reflective about what we have lost.

Linda Herrick, Kete

A Kiwi pandemic novel with elements of a pacy thriller, Stephanie Johnson’s Kind is also a wry and clear-eyed commentary on New Zealand, where we are and where we’re headed. There are many plot strands – each richly peopled and filled with nail-biting jeopardy – and multiple perspectives. This satisfying complexity means the novel is way more than an exploration of lockdown-related claustrophobia and navel-gazing. There is a bit of that – but just enough. . . . Johnson, the author of over 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, offers a master class in storytelling in the way she seamlessly links these plot threads and characters and provides a gratifying conclusion. The novel is a twisty, riveting ride that also provides plenty of food for thought: how far is New Zealand prepared to go in selling its soul by offering refuge to the ranks of the paranoid rich, and the insidiousness of class divisions in a society that prides itself on “classlessness”? Johnson wrestles, too, with the limits of kindness. Lockdown blues are the least of it.

Brigid Feehan, NZ Listener

The book is a virtual theme park of twisting turning rides, some terrifying, some hilarious, some a house of mirrors, and all of them page-turning. With at least five storylines and, I think, 11 different points of view, all with their own intricate tensions and cliff-hangers, it’s a spectacular feat of plotting. . . . All of the storylines are a thrilling ride, and their ultimate collision produces the kind of ending that leaves a reader grinning, putting down the book with a satisfied sigh, and wanting another one.

Anna Knox, readingroom, Newsroom

There will no doubt be more novels dealing with the pandemic and what we did in the lockdown . . . but few will be as witty or thought-provoking, thanks to Johnson's trademark combination of sardonic observation with humane authorial compassion. Truly!

Paul Little, North & South

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Kind book club notes

Get discussing Stephanie Johnson's funny and fearless New Zealand novel with the help of these book club questions!