The current issue of the New Zealand Listener, which has long been considered one of our country’s premier magazines, includes a nice feature article on Christchurch-based crime writer Paul Cleave, whose fourth and latest thriller, BLOOD MEN, is released in Australasia this month.
The NZ Listener is a weekly current affairs and entertainment magazine, and is renowned for having one of the best books and review sections of any local publication. In fact the NZ Listener review pages (“Arts & Books”) have won several awards for their comprehensive and in-depth commentary. At last year’s Book Publishers’ Association of New Zealand Awards, where the team from the NZ Listener were the overall winners for Best Review Page or Programme, the judges said that “In the New Zealand Listener, books matter and are seen to matter.”
So it's quite cool to see the NZ Listener dedicating some page-space to Cleave and his crime writing (he has been mentioned in its annual 'Top 100 Books' lists in previous years as well).
The feature article, by experienced reviewer and journalist Jane Bowron, is entitled "Blood Man of the Garden City", and spans three pages in the current (Feb 13-19) issue. New Zealand-based readers can pick it up from most supermarkets, dairies, and bookstores throughout the country, while overseas readers will be able to view the full article online from 27 February. In the interim, you can read the tagline and introduction to Bowron's article, based on an interview with Cleave, here.
Bowron covers some of the same territory that I did in my interview with Cleave late last year (for an upcoming feature in the March issue of Australian-based Good Reading magazine), particularly noting the mix of dark crime and wicked humour in his novels, and how Cleave has sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his books in Germany, but has so far been fairly overlooked (like New Zealand crime fiction in general) in Australasia.
Embarrasingly, myself and this blog even get a passing mention in Bowron's article. Apparently I am a "crime-writing afficianado" who "crime watches" local bookstores to check their "rare" support for crime fiction, and sends Cleave "maddening, tantalising photos of European airport bookstores groaning with crime fiction compared to our barrenly stsocked airport shelves back home". Hmmm... not sure what to think about that description. Haha.
Unfortunately (probably due to subediting), the 'New Zealand' prefix seems to have dropped off to some of the talk about crime fiction in the article - for it would be very unfair to say that New Zealand bookstores (and readers) aren't supportive of the crime fiction genre in general; in fact crime/thriller fiction may very well be the most popular type of writing with local adult readers (judging by the weekly and annual bestseller lists) - and is well-covered, even dominant amongst the fiction categories, in most of the bookstores I have looked through. It's just that NEW ZEALAND crime fiction isn't as yet as well supported, encouraged, or publicised, and is missing from many bookstores shelves, and wider media and reader consciousness (hence this blog).
In some ways, that makes things worse. International crime fiction is very popular in New Zealand (although sometimes it is ignored or overlooked by festival organisers and certain media, despite being loved by readers and booksellers) - but our own crime fiction writing hasn't yet been given the same opportunity to shine, even in a country that enjoys crime fiction.
Anyway, it is great to see New Zealand crime writers such as Paul Cleave getting some good feature-article coverage, especially in such excellent publications as the NZ Listener. Despite the minor quibbles, I heartily recommend Bowron's article to anyone interested in Cleave, or our budding sub-genre (NZ crime fiction).