On Coming Home

On Coming Home

‘The declamatory return; a homeland as a “wearying enigma”. This all makes sense to me. The New Zealand that’s home to me may be a place of sheep and rugby and number-eight wire, whatever that is, but it’s also none of those things. Am I still a New Zealander?’

Award-winning writer Paula Morris confronts long-standing fears of what it means to return home. Is ambition and adventure being traded for a ‘forever home’ of commitments and compromises? Will she still belong? And will the belonging impose its own restrictions? Morris seeks answers in the words of writer exiles as she narrates her own return to New Zealand. Now a settler not a visitor, she questions incisively the very idea of ‘belonging’.

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BWB Texts are short books on big subjects by great New Zealand writers. Spanning contemporary issues, history and memoir, new BWB Texts are released regularly, and the series now amounts to well over fifty works.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: May 2015
Pages: 96
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9780908321117
ISTC: A022015000000060
DOI: 10.7810/9780908321117

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Paula Morris in conversation with Patricia Grace at WORD Christchurch, 30 August 2015

'Paula Morris: What it means to be a New Zealand writer', Naomi Arnold, Dominion Post, 6 June 2015

Paula Morris talks with Jesse Mulligan, Radio New Zealand, Queen's Birthday programme, 1 June 2015

Read this double-page interview with Paula Morris, 'Home Truths', Mark Broatch, NZ Listener: ‘I’m like Jason Bourne with my multiple passports, so my nationality changes depending on which border I’m crossing. But I’m a New Zealander still, of course, who grew up on a cluster of islands deep in the Pacific, looking outwards, restless.’ Paula Morris

Paula Morris blogs about ‘not real life’ on Trendy But Casual.

Paula Morris mentions On Coming Home in twelve questions with the New Zealand Herald.


‘This is the sort of terrific writing that makes people rave about Paula Morris.’ David Cohen, NZ Books, August 2015

'Even after my second reading of this book, I cannot squash the jealousy I hold for Morris’ ability to make a personal reflection into an essay with worldwide appeal. Linking her experiences to writers of the past who have found themselves in similar states of flux regarding their own sense of belonging gives the book substance far beyond what I had imagined writing myself. Jealousy aside, I recommend this essay to any expat, and particularly expat writers exploring their own sense of belonging.' Katrina Brown, Taipei Writers Group, 16 August 2015

'Just finished this gem. Highly recommend for all writers thinking about their place in the world.' Rachael King, @rachaelking70

‘On Coming Home is an elegantly-written and deeply moving essay on returning home … My favourite thing about this book is the author’s sense of being “mired in nostalgia”; seeing ghosts of times and people past layered over what she sees out the car window as she drives through Auckland in the present.’ Caroline Barron, LoveWordsMusic, 20 July 2015

‘This is an engaging, thought-provoking addition to the excellent BWB Texts collection … and should appeal to many who have moved back to New Zealand after a long time.’ Kia Ora Magazine, July 2015

‘It’s fabulously literary and deeply personal, and its charm is to be found in the interplay between Morris’ own experiences and her evocation of the lives and writings of so many others … Thought-provoking and satisfying, this is part of BWB Books’ series of ‘short books on big subjects from great New Zealand writers’ – to be applauded as a contribution to the intellectual life of us, whoever we turn out to be.’ Margie Thomson, stuff.co.nz, 14 June 2015

'On Coming Home' is impossible not to take personally; a short, sharp 80-page essay that provokes intense reflection on where, after all, one belongs. Highly recommended.' Elizabeth Heritage, Booksellers NZ, 9 June 2015

'After such a long period away, could [Paula Morris] still consider herself a New Zealander? She later solved the dilemma by deciding that she is an Aucklander rather than a New Zealander, but her crisis raises interesting questions around identity and nationality.' Tom Aitkin, Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies, 4:2 (2016): 227.