Out of the Vaipe, the Deadwater

Out of the Vaipe, the Deadwater

A Writer’s Early Life

‘The Vaipe has the Roman Catholic Cathedral at its western boundary, the court and police station to the east, the market and harbour in front, and the swamps behind it. These are convenient boundaries that I’ve turned into a symbolic fence for the marvellous world of the Deadwater.’

Albert Wendt crosses into new and deeply personal territory in this stirring BWB Text. Returning to his boyhood in the Vaipe, a suburb of Apia in Samoa, sees Wendt confront elemental questions: Is the Vaipe he has created in his stories, poetry and novels really the Vaipe that existed and exists in real life? Or is it real only in his books? Is there a difference between the two? And does it matter? The responses form a vivid narrative that draws on a life of award-winning writing, and returns full circle to the symbolic world of the Deadwater.

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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: Sep 2015
Pages: 144
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9780908321223
ISTC: A0220150000000D5
DOI: 10.7810/9780908321223

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One of Auckland Libraries' 'Top 100 books of 2015', Auckland Libraries, December 2015

'Albert Wendt — a resonant Pacific voice', Dale Husband, E-Tangata, 11 October 2015

'Albert Wendt - A Memoir of a Long Literary Life', Albert Wendt with Lynn Freeman, Standing Room Only, Radio New Zealand, 20 September 2015


‘The uncertainty of the truth to this account didn’t diminish my enjoyment for Wendt’s story; I love a good life story, even if I don’t see the whole picture. There is so much heart thrown in to the pages, and every reader will take something away from such a well-written and informative tale.’ Kimaya McIntosh, Booksellers NZ, 13 November 2015

‘A very touching, likeable memoir that explains what his writing means. Works on lots of levels, and adds incredibly to your understanding of his previous work, and to the narrative of that work as a whole.’ Louise O’Brien, New Zealand Books, on Radio New Zealand, Nine to Noon

‘… a reader-friendly and revealing book. Wendt’s policy throughout – a wise one worth contemplating if you plan to write a memoir – is to scrutinise his own shortcomings with ruthless candour while turning a kindly eye on everyone else he names … He is eloquent on the contradictions of the divided self, gazing outwards from the rifts in his own thinking to the split thinking of all Samoans.’ Iain Sharp, NZ Listener, 3 October 2015

'Unbearable sorrow, unbearable dislocation, unbearable beauty; these emerge as themes of this intimate memoir about Albert Wendt's early life. They are also the prevailing themes in Wendt's formidable body of work. But this volume takes us into a landscape he has not before explored in such death.' Michalia Arathimos, Landfall Review Online, March 1 2017.