Amy Head

Signs of Life

210mm x 138mm
Publication date:
10 August 2023

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Longlisted for the 2024 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction

Christchurch, post quakes, and the earth is still settling. Containers line the damaged streets, whose inhabitants waver – like their city – suspended between disaster and recovery. Tony, very much alive, is declared dead, Gerald misreads one too many situations in his community patrol, and boomer Carla tries online dating. At the epicentre of these taut, magnetic stories is twenty-something Flick who, just as she is finding her feet again, faces another violent disruption – this time in human form – while her mostly-ex gets set to marry.

Keenly observed and deftly humorous, Signs of Life turns on the smallest of details to tell the biggest of stories: how we carry on.

'A fabulous collection.' —Emma Hislop, RNZ

'Sensitively observed and deeply affecting.' —Scorpio Books

'The stories form stepping stones, apparently disjointed but leading somewhere – in this case, to a profound insight into a city in the aftermath of disaster.' —Elizabeth Engledow, Aotearoa New Zealand Review of Books

‘Through the rubble of Amy Head’s pungent, post-quake Christchurch flickers Flick, a young woman trying to make sense of a terrible event and its endless aftermath. In her pages it all comes back, uneasily, but also with brief moments of beauty, little eruptions of comedy. Life wins out, in the end, in this bright and original piece of discontinuous fiction – a fine tribute to everyone who survived, to those who didn’t, and to the form it’s written in.’ —Patrick Evans

‘From comical to terrifying, mundane to profound, these stories traverse the intersecting lives of a multigenerational cast in surprising and original ways. Amy Head has a masterful approach.’ —Airini Beautrais

Amy Head is the author of the novel Rotoroa, and a collection of short stories, Tough, which won the Best First Book Award for Fiction at the New Zealand Book Awards. She is a graduate of the International Institute of Modern Letters, and was Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence at the University of Canterbury in 2020. She lives in Ōtautahi Christchurch. 

Cover: Todd Atticus

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