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An Interview with Alan Duff

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Title:An Interview with Alan Duff
Authors:Duff, Alan
Hereniko, Vilsoni
LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:1995
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Duff, Alan. 1995. An Interview with Alan Duff. By Vilsoni Hereniko. The Contemporary Pacific 7 (2): 328-44.
Abstract:Alan Duff's novel Once Were Warriors is the first work of fiction to be
published in the Talanoa: Contemporary Pacific Literature series of the
University of Hawai'i Press. One reason for choosing this novel was that
it had recently been published in AotearoalNew Zealand (I990) and
was causing considerable controversy. All of a sudden, this relatively unknown
Maori was making headlines in the print media, being interviewed
over and over again on television, and making a lot of people angry. His
novel had shot to the top of the bestsellers' list soon after its release, and
booksellers were besieged with requests to buy it-a novel that supposedly
puts the boot in the face of the Maori.
Once Were Warriors is now a successful, award-winning feature film.
Alan Duff, who has since published another novel titled One Night Out
Stealing (I992), a nonfiction book titled Maori: The Crisis and the Challenge
(I993), anda radio series, State Ward (I994), is now famous, if not
a household name in AotearoalNew Zealand. By his account, more
novels, and possibly films, are already being written or planned. Refusing
to be silenced by his critics, this author will probably continue to be in the
news for many years to come.
The mention of Duff's name is enough to set many people off, Maori
and non-Maori alike. In a recent issue of this journal, Christina Thompson
wrote a lengthy article that used as a hook the selection by theUniversity
of Hawai'i Press of Alan Duff as a "representative Maori writer."
Labeling the choice "radical," she teased out the cultural and political
issues that surround his book-which is "problematic from almost any
perspective" (THE CONTEMPORARY PACIFIC 6:397-4I3). The interview
that follows allows the author to talk about his work from his own perspective,
and to continue the debate that still rages around it.
Soon after his film was released, Duff passed through Hawai'i on his
way to Budapest to promote it. The University of Hawai'i Press took the
opportunity to ask him to talk about his work during the launching of
the Talanoa series, and Vilsoni Hereniko interviewed him in his office on
I6 June I994. Hereniko describes the interview.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1995 - Volume 7, Number 2

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