Books to pack

15th August 1997 at 01:00
My holiday reading is a mixture of the quick and the good. But I'm going to concentrate on the good and imagine myself back in New Zealand on a beach shaded by pohutukawa trees.

In the past 10 years or so I've rediscovered - or, in truth, discovered - authors from my homeland. This year I devoured Witi Ihimaera's Bulibashi. Set on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, it follows the fortunes of a Maori sheep-shearing dynasty. I recognise the dirt roads, the faded tank-like American cars, the country school, the all-powerful father. It's the stuff of my childhood.

There'd also be a collection of New Zealand short stories; one which included Katherine Mansfield's "The Dolls' House", the first piece of grown-up fiction I can remember. It's grown with me: when I was young it seemed to be about a lucky girl with wonderful parents who forked out for a dolls' house. Now I know it's about class.

Maurice Gee's The Plumb Trilogy would have to be packed. It's been on my list of "must-reads" for years. I'd start it on this beach.

And to help me clear my thoughts about being a fourth-generation Kiwi, I'd dip into Pakeha: the Quest for Identity in New Zealand. It's edited by Michael King, one of my tutors from long-gone days.

Something from the northern hemisphere to even things out. It would have to be Patrick Sueskind's Perfume, with its repulsive, yet riveting central character. It's exquisite. And not to be rushed.

Jill Craven is a sub-editor on The TES

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