The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke
‘The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But I must finish my story for you first. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen.’
So begins the tale of James Poneke: orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. All the world’s a stage, especially when you’re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander on the savage streets of Victorian London. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises. Although London is everything James most desires, this new world is more dark and dazzling than he could have imagined.
About the Author
Tina Makereti is a New Zealand novelist, essayist,short story writer, editor and creative writing teacher. Her book Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa, won the inaugural fiction prize at the Nga Kupu Ora Maori Book Awards in 2011 and Where the Rekohu Bone Sings won the Nga Kupu Ora Aotearoa Maori Book Award for Fiction in 2014.
We admired how this book speaks to both the past and the present, overlaying historical assumptions with modern sensibilities, and breathing new life into the important topic of colonial reading. Auckland Libraries, New Zealand
Makereti paints a vivid picture of two worlds – Colonial and wild New Zealand and Victorian London – and how a young Maori boy fits within them. Richly detailed and told from a voice that has a gift of observation and an interesting perspective. Timaru District Libraries, New Zealand
This is a dark, unsettling and dazzling novel about an orphaned Maori boy in Victorian London. He is there as a living exhibit. The book is fundamentally about those things that make us human and the true selfs of people obscured behind the prejudices and masks imposed on them by society. Wellington City Libraries, New Zealand