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  • Published: 7 June 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775532798
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 376
  • RRP: $37.99

The Elusive Language of Ducks




A quirky, astute and heart-warming novel about human relationships — and a duck

A quirky, astute and heart-warming novel about human relationships — and a duck.

As if it will make up for her loss, they bring Hannah a duckling to care for. They were well meaning, and it could have done the trick.

However, Hannah’s focus on the duck progressively alienates those around her. As the duck takes over her world, past secrets are exposed. Will Hannah's life unravel completely?

This funny, moving and insightful novel contemplates the chemistry between one person and another: a man and another man’s wife; a woman and a duck; a woman and her dead mother; a drug addict and his drug. Beautifully written, it is a penetrating and compassionate view of marriage, dependency, obsession, addiction, and love.

  • Published: 7 June 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775532798
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 376
  • RRP: $37.99

About the author

Judith White

Judith White is known for what Michael King described as her ‘vividly and hauntingly original’ writing and, as Iain Sharp in the Sunday Star Times noted, is ‘second to none . . . when it comes to depicting states of anxiety, both comic and poignant. And the brilliance with which she enters into her characters’ aberrant states of mind signals a major talent.’

She is a winner of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Centenary Award, twice winner of the Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition, and in 1998 won the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship. A collection of short stories, Visiting Ghosts, was shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards, and her first novel, Across the Dreaming Night,was shortlisted for the Montana New Zealand Book of the Year. Her second novel is The Elusive Language of Ducks. Her short stories have been widely published and broadcast on radio.

In The New Zealand Herald, Elspeth Sandys revealed: Across the Dreaming Night remains in my mind as a fine piece of writing, haunting and sad, with occasional flashes of humour and a marvellously unexpected ending.’ Elizabeth Caffin in New Zealand Books wrote: ‘It is the imaginative vision that is so striking in Judith White’s Across the Dreaming Night, a novel that moves into different territory. It is true that this novel has elements of female self-discovery and of social comment, but at its centre is something powerful, even unworldly . . . But White writes about this strange emotion with a tenderness and inner sympathy that extends it beyond mere explanation, that allows it not to be fully understood, to be, in the end, deeply haunting and moving.’

Also by Judith White

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Praise for The Elusive Language of Ducks

White handles her themes with characteristic sensitivity in this melancholy, funny and hopeful exploration of love and the difficulties of maintaining adult relationships.

Dominion Post

It's poetic, gentle and wise . . . Wry and clever, The Elusive Language of Ducks transcends its bleak theme to leave us as thoughtful and questioning as its gentle protagonist.

Stephanie Johnson, Weekend Herald

Her prose is quite the best thing about this book, poetic and reflective, wry and playful at times, compassionate and observant. . . . Ideas are mulled over and lived through, words polished, characters coaxed into life, flavours gradually deepen. The result is writing to savour - even for those who only like duck served barbecued and wrapped in pancakes.

Nicky Pellegrino, Herald on Sunday

An exceptional book

Radio NZ

The Christchurch earthquakes are cleverly woven into this story, helping to make a clever, thought provoking read. This sometimes humorous, often moving and insightful novel contemplates the chemistry between a husband and wife, families, a dead mother and of course, a duck.

Waitaki Herald

Judith White’s second novel . . . features both her signature ability to sensitively evoke the interior lives of the broken, anxious and grieving, and her deft talent for juxtaposing the poignant with the comedic. . . . White’s depiction of the duck is utterly original and compelling. . . . In this gently wise novel White acknowledges the paradoxical human need for both connection and freedom, nurturing and space, company and solitude, sharing and privacy.

Kirstine Moffat, Landfall Review Online

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