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  • Published: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143773160
  • Imprint: RHNZ Adult ebooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

Pearly Gates

Comeuppance comes from unexpected directions.

This entertaining and insightful novel both skewers and celebrates small-town New Zealand.

Pat `Pearly' Gates has achieved a lot in his life and evinces considerable satisfaction in his achievements. He has a reputation as a former Otago rugby player and believes he would have been an All Black but for sporting injuries. He runs a successful real-estate agency in a provincial South Island town, of which he is the second-term mayor. Popular, happily married, well established, he cuts an impressive figure, especially in his own eyes.

But will his pride and complacency come before a fall?

  • Published: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143773160
  • Imprint: RHNZ Adult ebooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the author

Owen Marshall

Owen Marshall, described by Vincent O’Sullivan as ‘New Zealand’s best prose writer’, is an award-winning novelist, short-story writer, poet and anthologist, who has written or edited more than 30 books, including the bestselling novel The Larnachs. Numerous awards for his fiction include the New Zealand Literary Fund Scholarship in Letters, fellowships at Otago and Canterbury universities, and the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship in Menton, France. In 2000 he became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to literature; in 2012 was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM); and in 2013 he received the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction. In 2000 his novel Harlequin Rex won the Montana New Zealand Book Awards Deutz Medal for Fiction. Many of his other books have been shortlisted for major awards, and his work has been extensively anthologised.

In addition, in 2003 he was the inaugural recipient of the Creative New Zealand Writers’ Fellowship, and was the 2009/10 Antarctica New Zealand Arts Fellow. In 2006 he was invited by the French Centre National du Livre to participate in their Les Belles Etranges festival and subsequent tour, anthology and documentary. He was the President of Honour of the New Zealand Society of Authors 2007–08 and delivered the 2010 Frank Sargeson Memorial Lecture.

He was a school teacher for many years, having graduated with an MA (Hons) from the University of Canterbury, which in 2002 awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, and in 2005 appointed him an adjunct professor.

See more at www.owenmarshall.net.nz.

Many leading contemporary writers have counted themselves amongst his admirers, including Janet Frame and Fiona Kidman, who wrote of his work, ‘I find myself exclaiming over and again with delight at the precision, the beauty, the near perfection of his writing.’ Writer, historian and literary biographer Michael King wrote of Marshall, ‘Quite simply the most able and the most successful exponent of the short story currently writing in New Zealand.’ In World Literature Today, Carolyn Bliss described Marshall as a writer who ‘speaks with equal intensity to the unbearable loveliness and malevolence of life’. Writer and academic Vincent O’Sullivan has claimed ‘nobody tells our [New Zealand] stories better’.

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Praise for Pearly Gates

At its core, Pearly Gates surveys the human mindset, particularly sensibilities which are restricted by ambition, curtailed career, ageing and geography. Marshall's prose, which is as unadorned as the book's everyday lead, perfectly suits this careful cerebral uncovering. . . Pearly Gates offers us rural "mainland" life, its people and psychologies, the foibles and fortes. . . .As Marshall examines the good and bad sides of humanity, a gentle paced, deceptively dark novel ensues.

Siobhan Harvey, Weekend Herald

As with the big Canterbury sky, the shifts in Owen Marshall's world are slow and subtle. . . . Pearly Gates is a slow burn, utterly proficient in its characterisation, undramatic in its demonstration of the chinks in Pearly's homespun armour. . . . Pearly's self-regard is undone as Marshall's seventh novel takes the threads of his character's self assumption and gently pulls.

Sally Blundell, NZ Listener

Although there is much sharp-eyed and droll observation of small-town folk and foibles, this is really the story of a man on a journey towards understanding himself. . . . There is a lot of wisdom in these pages on all sorts of matters . . .

Paul Little, North & South

Owen Marshall carefully and with quietly dignified humour outlines life in a provincial Otago town. Marshall incrementally builds up small-town life, and the bustle, supposition, speculation, and all that it encompasses. Pearly is a gentle and affable if stuck-in-his-ways main character. While not holding the keys to heaven, he knows he is gatekeeper of the smooth running of the town and its people, and it is up to him, with his benevolent smile, to figure out how to do this, faltering as he strides on.

Jessie Neilson, Otago Daily Times

Owen Marshall pokes gentle fun at provincial New Zealand, while exploring the personalities, with all their strengths and weaknesses, of those people at the heart of our communities. . . . While Marshall gently prods Pearly's inner self, his vanities, foibles and sins, his regrets and kindnesses, what is revealed is a picture of a man who is not just good or bad, but a mixture of those traits. . . . While this novel doesn't provide any murders to be solved, or romances to swoon over, it does paint us a picture of a Kiwi town and its people that is as exquisite as that used for the cover, Lemon Meringue Pie, by Christchurch artist Hamish Allan.

Diane McCarthy, Eastern Bay Life

The story is written in his characteristic cool, dry, aphoristic prose . . . There is humour, in the form of gentle satire . . And, of course, there is the psychological precision which has made Marshall one of this country's finest writers both of sort and long form. . . The work of bringing Pearly alive is masterfully done . . .

John McCrystal, NZ Books

Nobody can draw out the essence of a character better than Owen Marshall, and in Pat (nicknamed Pearly) Gates, he has magically brought to life a quintessential provincial Kiwi fellow, with all his quirks and flaws. . . . consequences make Pearly take a long overdue look at his ethics and self-awareness. It’s a delightful slow build towards realisation, as he reveals his inner-most thoughts; it draws out the nature of the people who touch his life and it defines his relationships with them. Marshall has the perfect light and, at times witty touch, to fully engage us with the sort of people and places we feel we know already, because he makes them so very real.

Felicity Price, Stuff

Awards & recognition

Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Longlisted  •  2020  •  Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize

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Pearly Gates - book club guide

NZ author and poet Owen Marshall shares with us some questions to get the ball rolling in a book club discussion for his latest Novel, Pearly Gates.