Book review by Koi Kye Lee
Title: Loss Adjustment
Author: Linda Collins
Publisher: Ethos Books (2019)
Loss Adjustment is a non-fiction work by Linda Collins, a New Zealander who has lived in tropical Singapore for almost three decades. Collins, a wife, mother, and copyeditor with the republic’s English daily, The Straits Times, suffered a devastating loss when her only child, Victoria Skye Pringle McLeod, decided to take her own life on April 14, 2014. She was only seventeen.
The memoir takes an unflinching look at the devastation wrought on Collins and her husband, Malcolm McLeod, as they tried to come to terms with their daughter’s death. Loss Adjustment starts with a glimpse into Collins’s normal morning routine in their home, where she, like other mothers, rises early to prepare for her daughter’s first day of a new school term. However, the routine was disrupted when Victoria (lovingly called Vic) was nowhere to be found in their condo. Before discovering that her daughter was missing, Collins had a strange dream where Victoria said: “I’m free, I’m free”.
Panicked, Collins woke up Malcolm and they started searching for her. An ominous feeling loomed over Collins as she ran towards the hill that led to other condominium blocks. As they wondered where their only child was, the building security guard, Mohan, arrived on his motorbike. But something was amiss — the burly and kindly man was sobbing. He conveyed a piece of bad news — Victoria was dead. She had taken her own life by stepping off the ledge on the 10th floor of a condominium block.
Koi Kye Lee in conversation with author Simon Rowe
Simon Rowe, an author- photographer- lecturer and avid traveller, lives in the samurai castle town of Himeji, Japan, and writes from there. He has recently brought out a collection of short stories titled Good Night Papa: Short Stories from Japan and Elsewhere.
Born and raised in Central Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, he moved to Australia where he graduated from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Simon Rowe not only has a passion for words, but also indulges in photography. Many of his works have appeared in TIME (Asia), the New York Times, the Weekend Australian, the South China Morning Postand the Paris Review. His short stories have been published in Flesh: A Southeast Asian Urban Anthology (2016), Another Time Another Place: A Collection of Short Stories (2015) and Noir Nation: International Crime Fiction No. 3(2013). He holds an MA in Writing from Swinburne University of Technology and is currently a foreign language instructor at Kwansei Gakuin University. He recently published another short story, ‘The Summer Hills of Pourerere’ , a story that talks of three teenage misfits forging a path through a harsh rural environment.
In this exclusive interview, he talks about travel, writing and teaching from Japan, the inspiration behind his stories, and his life as an English lecturer.
Kye Lee: Your stories have appeared in numerous publications. What made you start writing and for how long have you been writing?
Simon: That’s a long story! Growing up in rural New Zealand during the 1980s, my window on the world was National Geographic magazine. Naturally, I wanted to be a travel writer and photographer. My first story was about backpacking from Melbourne to Cape Tribulation in far-north Australia. I sold that tale to a newspaper in Melbourne and with the money bought an onward ticket. This became my existence for the next fifteen years and took me around the world three times. I finally settled in Japan where I now write short fiction, screenplays, and a blog called ‘Seaweed Salad Days’, about life in a traditional Japanese neighborhood.
Booker prizewinner defends her right to discuss politics after speaking out over culture and power in New Zealand: The Guardian
Eleanor Catton has hit back at figures in New Zealand who reacted with anger to her criticisms of the country’s “neoliberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians”, describing the vicious attacks she has suffered as a “jingoistic national tantrum”.
Interviewed at the Jaipur literary festival last week, Catton said that she feels “uncomfortable being an ambassador for my country when my country is not doing as much as it could, especially for the intellectual world”. In a conversation reported by Livemint, she went on to describe how New Zealand is dominated by “these neoliberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture. They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want. I feel very angry with my government.”
New Zealand novelist Eleanor Catton, Booker-winning author of The Luminaries, sets up grant to give writers ‘time to read’
Eleanor Catton, the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker prize, has announced that she will put the money from her latest awards win towards establishing a grant that will give writers “time to read”.
Catton’s The Luminaries, set during New Zealand’s 19th-century gold rush, took the Booker last year, when Catton was just 28. It has now won the Kiwi author the New Zealand Post best fiction and people’s choice awards, and Catton has said that she will use her winnings of NZ$15,000 (£7,500) to help other writers.
What effect did the advent of World War II have on New Zealand’s storytellers?
Poet and literary historian John Newton wants to know – and he will be spending most of next year at Waikato University finding out.
The university’s writer in residence for 2014, Dr Newton will be working on two books while he is based in Hamilton. One will be a book of poems; the other will be “a fresh take” on New Zealand writing in the mid-20th century.
The Kiwi author describes the journey that led to her Booker Prize win: The Telegraph The morning after […]