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Encyclopedia > Albert Wendt

Albert Wendt is a New Zealand writer, the author of six novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of poetry and a play.

Leaves of the Banyan Tree won the New Zealand Wattie Book of the Year Award, and is considered a classic of Pacific literature. His work has been translated into many languages. Recent books include Sons for the Return Home and his newest landmark novel The Mango's Kiss which was eighteen years in the making. His most recent book of poetry, The Book of the Black Star, combines words and images in short poems, drawing on Samoan language and myth, on dreams and memoires, as well as one the daily life of the poet. His play The Songmaker's Chair was a highlight of the first Auckland International Arts Festival.

As well as being the pioneer of Pacific writing, he is a mentor to many writers, and has been responsible for anthologizing the literature of the region.

Recent honours include New Zealand's Senior Pacific Islands Artist's Award, Japan's Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture, the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature, and New Zealand's Montana national book award for the anthology he coedited, Whetu Moana. He is the Citizens' Chair within the Department of English at UH Manoa, beginning in August, 2004.

Albert Wendt's 1965 book ‘Guardian and Wards’ (A study of the origins, causes, and the first two years of the Mau movement in Western Samoa.) is available online from the New Zealand Electronic Texts Center [1] (http://www.nzetc.org/etexts/WenGua/metadata.html).

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  Results from FactBites:
Spivak1.html (1788 words)
In essence, Wendt's experiments with language is an attempt to show the tensions and issues involved in language use in the postcolony; a concern he has in common with many postcolonial writers.
With such a forward, Wendt is not only demonstrating his characteristic playfulness but also highlighting the degree to which fiction is the imaginative assembly and rendering of various bits of tales told before, life experiences of the author, and the reinterpretations of historical events into a whole.
Wendt deals most explicitly with these issues in his essay "Towards a New Oceania" (1996 [1982]) in which he rejects the position espoused by some indigenous elites in the Pacific (and elsewhere) that there should be a conscious return to a pre-contact past and a "traditional culture" untainted by Western influence.
Albert Wendt (1118 words)
Albert Wendt is probably the best-known writer in the South Pacific.
Albert Wendt was born in Apia, Western Samoa, of mixed German and Polynesian ancestry.
Wendt's world is inhabited by real and semi-mythological beings, he uses European literature and history as well as images from Polynesian myths.
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