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Patricia Grace Biography

(1937– ), Waiariki, The Dream Sleepers, Electric City and Other Stories, Selected Stories, The Sky People

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellen Gilchrist Biography to Grain

New Zealand Maori writer, born in Wellington. Her collection of stories Waiariki (1975) was the first published by a Maori woman writer; later collections include The Dream Sleepers (1980), Electric City and Other Stories (1987), Selected Stories (1991), The Sky People (1994), whose stories are linked by the Maori myth of the title, and Collected Stories (1994). In addition to prize-winning children's books she has published the novels Mutuwhenua/The Moon Sleeps (1978), Potiki (1986), and Cousins (1992), which explore the special pressures to which contemporary Maori culture has to respond, especially in urban situations. The earlier novel reveals the conflicting attractions of home culture against the lure of the town through the relationship between Linda (who has dropped her Maori name) and Graeme. In Potiki similar tensions are sharpened through actual conflict between a Maori community and developers who employ every means (including violence) in an unsuccessful attempt to acquire ancestral land which they see simply as under-used real estate, while Cousins shows the resilience of three Maori women forced from the land into the city. Grace employs to great effect multiple perspectives on events, including untranslated passages in Maori, and her work furnishes a vivid and strongly Maori aspect on contemporary New Zealand culture.

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