Breton Dukes

Bird North and Other Stories


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Published October 2011

NZ Listener top 100 pick, 2011.

Breton Dukes stands in the great tradition of New Zealand writers – —Frank Sargeson, Maurice Duggan, Owen Marshall— – who have looked at men’'s lives. The portraits in Duke's’ stories are searingly fresh, always pointing away from clichés about male failure. The characters here are often trying to break free of expectation, and our engagement with them is always heightened by the language Dukes creates. With a bold mix of plain-speaking and lyrical flourish, the writer brings emotional urgency as well as surprising humour to a range of worlds, —from remote hot pools to a Johnsonville bottle store, —from a predatory act during a cross-country run in Fiordland to a doomed diving trip off Wellington's south coast.

'Bird North is a striking first collection of stories from a writer who has zeroed in on his subject and delivered an intense, necessary book.’' ——Damien Wilkins

'Confidant, nuanced and unselfconsciously local, this is an accomplished debut.' —Sam Finnemore, NZ Listener

'Roddy Doyle is a hard act to follow, but in Bird North, New Zealand author Breton Dukes does it with a gritty, and sometimes disturbing collection of stories that illustrate the pitfalls and dilemmas facing teen to mid-20s Kiwi males.' —Ian Williams, Otago Daily Times

Breton Dukes has worked in hospitals, language schools, gymnasiums, bars, kitchens, factories and government call centres. Raised in Dunedin, he currently lives with his partner in Northland where he is a house-husband, an ocean swimmer, and a bird watcher.

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