Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Massey author’s The Naturalist tops bestseller list

Massey author’s The Naturalist tops bestseller list

Massey University author Dr Thom Conroy’s novel The Naturalist is the current bestseller in New Zealand fiction.

Dr Conroy’s novel is a historical tale based on a true story set in 19th century New Zealand, Germany and London. Its central character is German naturalist, botanist and explorer Dr Ernst Dieffenbach, who championed equality between races, was fluent in Mäori and was known for his rebellious stand as a young student supporter of democracy in Germany.

On topping the Neilsen Weekly Bestseller list at one notch above Man Booker prize-winner The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, Dr Conroy says it’s been “satisfying and deeply humbling to know so many people are interested”.

The Naturalist, published earlier this month by Random House New Zealand under its Vintage label, is the result of six years’ research and writing. One of Dr Conroy’s main sources was Dieffenbach’s two-volume Travels in New Zealand, an account of his 18-month exploration of New Zealand’s land, people, following his voyage from London aboard the Tory.

The creative writing senior lecturer in the School of English and Media Studies at the Manawatü campus says he was struck by what he read about Dieffenbach while researching natural history for another project. He felt the German deserved more attention in light of his colourful personality and experiences
at the onset of New Zealand’s colonisation.

Among the milestones of Dieffenbach’s time in pre-settler New Zealand were; being the first European to reach the summit of Mt Egmont (Taranaki), and writing the first Māori dictionary and grammar.

Since launching in early August, the book has been well-reviewed and had wide media coverage, including an interview with National Radio’s Kim Hill.

American-born Pennsylvanian Dr Conroy, who has lived in New Zealand for nine years, drew on extensive historical records and research, inventing some scenes and additional minor characters to bring the German’s remarkable personality ad story to life. He hopes hisf ictional rendition of Dieffenbach’s story will have wide appeal – especially to those

intrigued by influential yet marginalised historical figures who provide fresh clues to the tangents and nuances of New Zealand’s colonial history.

Listen to Dr Thom Conroy’s interview with Kim Hill here.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news