John Summers

Photo: Ebony Lamb

John Summers is the author of The Commercial Hotel (2021). His first book was the acclaimed The Mermaid Boy, a collection of non-fiction stories published in 2015 by Hue & Cry Press. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The Spinoff, North & South, Landfall, Newsroom and Sport. He was the winner of the 2022 Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for Imaginative Prose. He was a finalist in the 2019 Voyager Media Awards and won the nonfiction category in the 2016 Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition. He lives in Wellington with his family.


John on twitter: @johnhsummers


John's website:


Praise for John Summers


'Every once in a while a book comes along that you read, re-read, and treasure. This is one of those books.’ —Laurence Fearnley


‘a self-deprecating narrator with a rare empathy and tenderness for even the most hopeless people he encounters’ —Philip Matthews,


‘Strong writing, a compassionate and empathetic heart and an eye for the humorous side of our world’ —Marion Dreadon, Booksellers NZ


‘These strange, fetching yarns of outsiders, losers, and other average New Zealanders read like fiction, with their artful crafting of unlikely events – there’s a slow boat to China, a kid in a mermaid suit, and a dildo on a doorknob in a dingy flat in Christchurch. It’s non-fiction as murky realism, and its down low, observational, fun.’ —Steve Braunias


‘This book is an achievement of much clarity and grace, but more importantly it is a work of promise.’ —Denis Harold, Landfall Review Online


The Mermaid Boy is a beautiful, robust collection of work. John Summers offers readers experiences and recollections that are somehow communal – non-fiction stories of growing up, flatting, work and travel. It is the quiet, commonplace aspect of his observation that gives this work such emotional depth.


‘Summers is a masterful storyteller with a prodigious way with words.’ —Erin Kavanagh-Hall, Wairarapa Midweek

John Summers