Friday, January 2, 2015

Kiwi crime at Taipei International Book Exhibition

Three acclaimed but very different authors who were longlisted for the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel lead a 22-strong contingent of New Zealand writers, illustrators, and graphic novelists at the Taipei International Book Exhibition next month. New Zealand is the theme country of the 2015 Exhibition. 

Eleanor Catton becomes the first Man Booker Prize winner to ever attend the Taipei International Book Exhibition (Book Fair), and she will bring hints of crime and murder mystery to the New Zealand theme alongside Paul Cleave and Joan Druett. Cleave was the 2011 winner of the Ngaio Marsh Award and a multiple finalist, whose dark Christchurch-set thrillers have featured on bestseller lists in several countries. He was also a finalist for the Edgar Award last year. His latest novel, FIVE MINUTES ALONE, has become available in New Zealand today.

Druett is a renowned maritime historian who crime fans adore for her Wiki Coffin tales - intriguing murder mysteries set on 1800s sailing ships. Her latest mystery, THE BECKONING ICE, made the longlist for last year's Ngaio Marsh Award and was praised by judges for the intriguing character of Wiki Coffin, her humour, and the way she crafted the fascinating setting of life about the US Expedition with great detail and understanding without overwhelming readers with nautical jargon.

The Taipei Book Fair runs from 11 February to 16 February at the Taipei World Trade Centre Exhibition Halls, and visitors can see the attending author launch books, sign autographs, and give talks. Other New Zealand authors in attendance will include Witi Ihimaera (best known internationally for Whale Rider), beloved children's author Joy Cowley, award-winning children's book writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop, and graphic novelist Tim Gibson.

In a press release, the head of the New Zealand theme country project, Upstart Press's Kevin Chapman (who was formerly the head of Hachette in New Zealand, and a driving force behind the very successful New Zealand pavilion at the Frankfurt Book Fair), said his team "hopes to create a platform for conversations between New Zealanders and Taiwanese". In Taipei, the New Zealand pavilion design is inspired by the tokotoko (Maori talking stick) - with three tokotokos around the pavilion meaning anyone inside as the authority to talk. 

New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei Director Si’alei van Toor said that she hopes the upcoming Book Fair strengthens bilateral cultural ties and shows Taiwanese the rich culture of New Zealand. “New Zealand and Taiwan have a lot in common," she said. "We’re both island economies with strong links to our indigenous peoples." Chapman is looking forward to showing that New Zealand, acountry well-known for stunning scenery, agriculture, and rugby, also has a rich cultural side. The annual Taipei International Book Exhibition is one of Asia’s largest book fairs. More than 1,000 publishers, writers, illustrators and experts in the publishing sector from around the world participated in this year’s fair.

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