Awa Press has spent 2014 collecting honours for Rebecca Macfie’s essential Tragedy at Pike River Mine: a portrait of life and death at the intersection of industrial labour and international business. This year the imprint has followed up with another brave, gripping work of insight.
Michael Field, author of Awa’s The Catch, will be known as a Herald journalist and Radio New Zealand’s Pacific correspondent. His long-standing beat has encompassed colonial struggles in Samoa and multiple Fijian coups. In The Catch he reports on matters far closer to home, telling the story of how fish gets from the Pacific Ocean to your belly. His efforts make for a page-turner but will sour readers’ next taste of hoki.
Field has uncovered working and employment conditions to defy any relegation of slavery to the past, or to faraway powers. The cast have names you will know from both sides of Parliament and from the supermarket freezer. The abuses of human life and dignity countenanced by these and others deserve to be broadcast — even if it makes choosing Friday’s dinner harder.
Reading of human barbarity in our theoretically civilised age is enough to boil the blood; and this year has seen no few ruminations on the role of anger. Politicians hollered at a raging public, who fulminated against hoardings and journalists alike; who in turn became frustrated at being yelled at no matter what they did or didn’t report. There were days when it seemed that to be an adult, to have an idea what was going on, was to have your insides twisted in rage.
Gecko Press’s The Day No One Was Angry offers 12 short fables about anger, contentment and much in between. The beautiful volume is a book for children to delve into and out of, to love and think upon. And if anger enters the gut in childhood but never truly departs, it would be the rare adult who couldn’t find a useful thought or two within.