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by Alan Duff
Alan Duff (born October 26, 1950, Rotorua, New Zealand) is a New Zealand novelist and newspaper columnist, most well known as the author of Once Were Warriors. He began to write full-time in 1985.
He tried writing a thriller as his first novel, but it was rejected. He burned the manuscript and started writing Once Were Warriors, which had an immediate and great impact. The novel is written in juxtaposed interior monologues, making its style stand out from other works. It was winner of the PEN Best First Book Award, was runner-up in the Goodman Fielder Wattie Award, and was made into the award-winning film of the same name in 1994.
Another of his novels, One Night Out Stealing, appeared in 1991 and shortlisted in the 1992 Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards.
He was also awarded the Frank Sargeson Fellowship in 1991, and began writing a weekly — later bi-weekly — column for the Evening Post (Wellington newspaper), syndicated to eight other newspapers. In this, and in his 1993 analysis, Māori: The Crisis and the Challenge, he has developed his ideas on the failures of Māoridom, castigating both the traditional leadership and the radical movement for dwelling on the injustices of the past and expecting others to resolve them, instead of encouraging Māori to get on and help themselves. The blame for Māori underperformance he puts squarely back on Māori, for not making the most of the opportunities given them. This somewhat simplistic message has proved highly controversial.
State Ward started as a series of episodes on radio in 1993 and was published as a novella in 1994.
The Books in Homes scheme, co-founded in 1995 by Duff and Christine Fernyhough, with commercial sponsorship and government support, aims to alleviate poverty and illiteracy by providing low-cost books to underprivileged children, thus encouraging them to read. In its first year alone it put about 180,000 new books in the hands of about 38,000 children. By 2008, the scheme delivered 5 million books to schools around New Zealand.
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1996), the sequel to Once Were Warriors, was the winner of the fiction section of the 1997 Montana Book Awards and was also made in to a film in 1999. Two Sides of the Moon was published in 1998. Duff wrote his own memoir, Out of the Mist and the Steam, in 1999. His first novel to be set outside of New Zealand is Szabad (2001). Inspired by the stories of people Duff met during his several trips to Hungary, the story takes place in Budapest during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Jake's Long Shadow (2002) is the third volume in Duff's Once Were Warriors trilogy. In 2003 Once Were Warriors was brought to the stage across New Zealand as a musical drama.
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