What we’re reading: Georgia Blain, Margaret Mahy & Ghassan Hage

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films and TV shows we’re watching, and the music we’re listening to.


Britt Munro is reading Is Racism an Environmental Threat? by Ghassan Hage

This is a wry and expansive analysis of the mode of being that Hage terms ‘domestication’ (which he explores as synonymous with practises of modern nation-building) as the root of both structural racism and environmental degradation. I love reading Hage because he always manages to open my mind in ways I could not have anticipated. His writing is so lively, humorous and woven through with anecdotes that I often don’t realise how much I am learning. That is until I get to the end of what I’m reading and realise that I now think about the topic in an entirely different, and inevitably enlarged, way. I waited for this particular book for more than a year and it hasn’t disappointed me.


Chris Gordon is reading The Museum of Words by Georgia Blain

I’ve just finished reading an early copy of Georgia Blain’s memoir, which is due to be released posthumously in late August. Written after Blain was diagnosed with brain cancer, this is an intensely personal study of her realisation that she was going to lose her language skills and in the end, her life as well. It is tremendously sad and I wept just reading the introduction by her partner – and then again when reading the final pages and registering that she cannot write anymore. The Museum of Words is a beautiful study of love and, of course, grief.


Bronte Coates is reading The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

I’ve long loved Margaret Mahy’s charming, funny, sometimes sardonic children’s stories – Jam is one of my favourite ever picture books. And now my colleague Lian Hingee has happily introduced me to yet another gem by the late New Zealand author.

First published in 1984, The Changeover is a YA novel that thrilled and chilled me in equal parts. When Laura Chant’s beloved little brother is targeted by a life-sucking demon, she’s forced to seek help from a strange older boy, Sorenson (or ‘Sorry’) Carlisle – who just so happens to be a witch. This is a wonderfully sinister and creepy tale of modern-day witches, families living on the fringes, fierce self-determination and the confusion of adolescence, complete with a heady dash of teen romance that’s undercut by the genuinely frightening presence of the supernatural. It’s unsettling, evocative and compelling, with plenty of appeal for YA readers today.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a film adaptation in the works right now, so you can expect to hear more of this novel in coming months. Lucy Lawless (as in, Xena the Warrior Princess!) is listed on the cast list alongside plenty more exciting names, and you can watch an absolutely terrifying trailer here.

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The Changeover

The Changeover

Margaret Mahy

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