WINNER OF THE JANN MEDLICOTT ACORN PRIZE FOR FICTION
WINNER OF THE MITOQ BEST FIRST BOOK OF FICTION
WINNER OF THE NGAIO MARSH AWARD FOR BEST CRIME NOVEL
- (verb) to cry, howl, groan, wail, bawl.
- (interjection) expression of astonishment or distress.
Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to a violent home.
But Taukiri’s brother, Ārama, is braver than he looks, and he has a friend, and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sadness.
This bestselling multi-award-winning novel is both raw and sublime, introducing a compelling new voice in New Zealand fiction.
“The word auē is a Maori verb to cry, howl, groan, wail, bawl and yes, yes, yes, yes and yes, you may do all of these things when reading Becky Manawatu’s incredibly assured debut novel. Small word, big emotions—and the perfect title for a book that deals in deceptively simple narration and oceanic feeling … Manawatu elicits compassion from ugly places, and threads through redemptive spiritual beauty, and innocence, too, via alternating voices.”
—Lucy Clark, The Guardian
“Much has been made of the violence in this novel … [but in] so many ways, Auē is quite different … more hopeful and tender … In bringing to the page characters who maim, but also characters who love fiercely, Manawatu has had to enter the aching heart of this story and bring her characters back from dark places. Auē has done well because it is expertly crafted, but also because it has something indefinable: enthralling, puzzling, gripping and familiar, yet otherworldly.”
—Tina Makereti, The Guardian
“There is something so assured and flawless in the delivery of the writing voice that is almost like acid on the skin.”
—Tara June Winch, co-judge of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction 2020, and author of The Yield
“Auē is a heartbreaking yet gripping drama … Despite the misery faced by its characters, the book maintains a sense of hope … [Auē] stands out for its stark yet careful approach to depicting confronting and uncomfortable subjects. It’s reminiscent of Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain and Romy Ash’s Floundering in its exploration of tragedy through the innocent eyes of a child.”
“Auē means to cry or wail, which is at the heart of this novel. It gnaws away at you, it consumes you; you can't stop thinking about it, trying to understand it, trying to find hope … a fitting title for this book as there is an underlying sense of sorrow that binds the generations together. It details intergenerational trauma and shares a journey on how this trauma can impact future generations and leave unseen scars breaking the essence and spirit of a person. Manawatu weaves the sorrowful call throughout the book, but there are just enough pockets of hope to allow the reader to imagine a better future for all the characters.”
—Wiki Mulholland, Emirates Literature Foundation
“It’s about the intergenerational nature of this violence, how ruinous lack of tenderness breeds further ruin. The violence is strongly gendered, the men incapable of expressing themselves except through fists … If lack of tenderness is the cause of all this suffering, aroha, love, is the answer. Throughout Auē love comes to the rescue, even if it is often thwarted. Culture and belonging are key to this love … The writing is cinematic, the dialogue heightened, the action coming in staccato bursts.”
—James Whitmore, The Library is Open
“[R}emarkable … In Manawatu's precise prose, even the most ruthless acts are imbued with poetry. Auē is a complex and gripping read, exploring identity, race and redemption.”
—Dasha Maiorova, The Big Issue
“[Auē's] strengths emerge partly through an unwillingness to flinch at bleakness, partly through the depth of emotion, and ultimately the resilience it also portrays.”
—The Sydney Morning Herald
“[Manawatu's] prose is as changeable as the ocean: fluid most of the time, choppy and fragmented during intense moments. Each narrator contributes a unique perspective, their voices weaving together to form a coherent, devastating tale … Auē is a novel about how trauma can spread from one generation to the next, and how it is never too late for second chances.”
—Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword Reviews
“Manawatu’s writing is tender, concise and cinematic, the narrative populated as much by loving, supportive men as it is by broken, violent ones. Her superb incorporation of popular music recalls – perhaps not coincidentally – the Midas touch of Quentin Tarantino, whose Django Unchained serves as both motif and character development, representing the irrepressible spirit of children who find joy in the ugliest sides of life and the pall of colonialism that hovers over the story. Manawatu slides between perspectives and time frames, abruptly introducing characters without losing command of the narrative, making revelations and connections at just the right time, the short chapters letting the story unfurl like a rich tapestry.”
—Ruby Hamad, The Saturday Paper
- MitoQ Best First Book Award for Fiction
- Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel
- Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction