Mi­nor­ity Re­port

The Dominion Post - - Cover Story -

Au­thor Bran­na­van Gnanalingam, di­rec­tor and writer Eleanor Bishop, art and so­cial com­men­ta­tor LaQuisha St Red­fern and play­wright and actor Vic­tor Rodger – all of whom fea­ture in Welling­ton’s fourth LitCrawl next week – sit down with to dis­cuss the en­dur­ing top­ics that oc­cupy their work. What do a Sri Lankan for­mer refugee, a fem­i­nist, a drag and a Samoan play­wright have in com­mon?

They are mi­nori­ties fight­ing to have their voices heard in a so­ci­ety con­structed by pa­tri­ar­chal and colo­nial val­ues.

Dani: Bran­na­van, what will you be talk­ing about in LitCrawl?

Bran­na­van: I’m go­ing to be talk­ing about my new book Sod­den Down­stream. It’s es­sen­tially about a refugee cleaner try­ing to get to work and if she doesn’t get to work, she loses her job. It’s set in Lower Hutt dur­ing a storm. I write about con­tem­po­rary is­sues and I write about the ev­ery­day world that I see or grew up in.

Dani: Why was it im­por­tant to have a refugee as the main char­ac­ter?

Bran­na­van: One, there are so few Sri Lankan char­ac­ters in New Zealand lit­er­a­ture. I wanted to re­flect that. Sec­ond, my pub­lisher Mur­doch runs the Do­ing Our Bit cam­paign to dou­ble the refugee quota and I thought telling a refugee story could be one of my con­tri­bu­tions to that. It’s also based on the fact that the Sri Lankan Civil War was some­thing my fam­ily and I went through, so I can write from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

Dani: How are con­tem­po­rary is­sues rel­e­vant to your writ­ing?

Bran­na­van: The refugee cri­sis has been on­go­ing for a while, par­tic­u­larly post-Syria, but also now with what’s hap­pen­ing in Burma and South Su­dan, so it’s a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal is­sue which ev­ery­one is kind of run­ning away from.

New Zealand has had a woe­ful re­sponse to that is­sue as its refugee quota has barely changed from 1987.

Also, there was a ma­jor storm hap­pen­ing in Welling­ton and we’ve had quite a few of those

Bran­na­van Gnanalingam fo­cuses on the story of a refugee.

Eleanor new Bishop’s theatre ex­am­ines work fe­male de­sire.

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