There’s Di, waking up in hospital, feeling scrubbed raw. Ritchie and Willy, toasting their dead friend with ginger beer. Kiri, frantically searching for a lost child. Ember Eyes, with his goat and his too-powerful gun. Rachel clambering up a cliff face. Ellen and her friends bashing through the bush.
Loosely centred on three generations of the Carlton family and told with restrained lyricism, Peninsula is a set of ten interwoven stories about the lives of an ordinary rural Northland farming community over decades of change. It’s a community populated with stoic, fierce characters who brim with feeling, embroiled in rich and complex relationships with the land, and with one another. Though it is full of the familiar – peacocks, thistles, tramping huts – it is also a place of dreaming.
Peninsula, by newcomer Sharron Came, won the 2021 Adam Foundation Prize and introduces a new voice in New Zealand fiction.
‘This stunning book casts an unusual spell. At first blush it all seems as New Zealandy as sheep dogs, septic tanks and muting the TV when visitors arrive. Then you notice the creeping poetry of lives coping with change and how this vividly imagined world of tramping huts, bush runs and squash clubs contains other worlds. Sharron Came is writing from deep intimacy with the rural community she summons on the page. Her terse, funny and hugely poignant stories restore a sense of possibility to the future without turning away from its terrors.’ —Damien Wilkins
‘This superbly crafted collection reaches deep into the heart of family, community and place. It is a measure of Sharron Came’s skill that the rural Northland landscape and the complex, deeply human characters co-exist in perfect equilibrium. I loved this book.’ —Laurence Fearnley
Sharron Came works as an energy analyst in Wellington. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, winning the 2021 Adam Foundation Prize for Peninsula, which is her first book.
Cover painting: Sonja Drake, Winter Walking with Charlie, courtesy of the artist and Railway St. Studios