Name: Don Long
Company: Lift Education E Tu
My first job in publishing was… Co-editing Edge, a New Zealand-based international literary journal. We published New Zealand writers such as James K. Baxter, Ian Wedde, and Bill Manhire beside overseas writers such as Margaret Atwood, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Jorge Luis Borges. Richard Ford, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, for example, had his first publication anywhere in Edge. Edge later morphed into Into the World of Light and Te Ao Marama, but that’s another story.
I’m currently reading… Inspired by a recent article in The New Yorker, I’m currently reading a range of children’s books and books for teenagers about the Holocaust. The Devil’s Arithmetic has me spell-bound. I’m reading this beside the French novel HHhH — for contrast. For a long time, writers of children’s books and books for young adults steered clear of this topic. These books leave me thinking that we have a similar no-go area in our literature for young people – stories written from the point-of-view of young Maori who were on the receiving end of violence and displacement during the early years of colonialism and then during the Land Wars.
My biggest career highlight so far was… Editing Into the World of Light and then the five volumes of Te Ao Marama with Witi Ihimaera. Up to that point, New Zealand literature had seemed very Eurocentric. Witi and I set out in those six anthologies to change that. And learning te reo Maori – a completely different sense of what New Zealand literature is immediately comes into view. The interconnected worlds of publishing, bookselling, book awards, book reviewing, and so on still haven’t really caught up with what New Zealand literature actually is. Much less the fascinating things being written in our other languages, such as in gagana Tokelau. The tyranny of monolingualism and the shallowness of sticking (by-in-large) with English … yet there is so much more.