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September 05, 2008



Oh Paula - you have cheered me up no end with this blog - here's hoping tactic three has kicked in and you are on a roll. Cheers.

Rachael King

I have always had a bone to pick with that Listener poll: NZ's best writers under 40. As a Listener reviewer at the time (this was before I was a published novelist myself), I was asked to nominate the best writers under 40, so I handed in my list of my favourites. We were not given a limit to who we could nominate, and at no point were we told that they were going to be ranked in any way. So imagine my surprise when Catherine Chidgey was named as "the best". This is nothing against Catherine; her name was on my list. But my point is that they must have chosen her because her name appeared on more lists than anyone else's, NOT that she'd been nominated as the best of the best. Many factors could have contributed to her name coming up a lot but it just meant that more people thought she deserved to be on the list of top ten, not necessarily that she was the 'best'. My list included then-unpublished Carl Shuker, but at that point nobody else knew about him, so of course he didn't make the list, let alone the top of the list. So whenever I see that she was named "the best novelist" under 40 (and I'm not disputing her right to this title or anyone's right to it) I just get uncomfortable because that's not how we voted.

Also, it was inspired by the Granta list of best under 40, and they just present a list, not a heirarchy, so I don't understand why the Listener decided to publish the results that way.

Vanda Symon

It's so good to hear of other writers getting glum too, although, I must say I hadn't thought of the getting-my-nails-done fix and my alcoholic beverage choice would involve wine, but I soooo get the kitchen wares. I also tend to self medicate with the contents of the pantry, which isn't the best idea.
The media is so strange with its 'we did her last book' thing, like we've been rude enough to publish another book. I don't get it. I would have thought an article about a writer successfully publishing another book would be an uplifting and encouraging story their readers would want to hear about - but apparently not, that's just me.
As for the best young writers under 40 list, firstly I'd be shocked if I was even on their radar there, and secondly, I'm seriously running out of time...


Actually, Paula, I hate to say it but I remember much the same thing about doors and windows being said in 'The Sound of Music' - not that I watch that kind of rubbish at all!

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