Great yarn about colonial New Zealand
Rollicking good ride through the 1860s
One Tiger / Two Tails A novel by Christodoulos Moisa Published by One Eyed Press Reviewer: Paul Brooks .. .. .. .. ..
This novel by Chris Moisa is unlike any of his previous works. Yes, the setting is different, but even his style has been altered to accommodate the story. His prose, always a pleasure to read, has been pared back, simplified, focusing on keeping the reader close to the action and the characters causing it or affected by it. It’s all about the story, how it ends, and the emotions the reader cannot help but feel. It is also about loyalty in its purest form. Strong, true, unshakeable, no matter what.
We begin with a whale hunt off the coast of New Zealand in the 1860s, a blood-soaked introduction to the two men who take us through the rest of the story. One Greek, one Chinese, forging an unlikely and unusual friendship from their time on the whaler to seeking their fortune in a New Zealand not known for its liberal attitude towards people of other races.
There is a woman, Algerian, wife to her French husband by virtue of purchase, around whom much circulates and, in particular, the thoughts and seemingly hopeless desires of Zhang, the Chinaman.
Around these central characters, with others floating on the periphery, bringing both good and bad fortune to the former, Chris Moisa packs a story with everything in it. Friendship, love, hope, despair, violence, passion, as well as all the things that passed for daily life in colonial New Zealand.
He tells a good yarn and weaves enough facts into the fiction to put us well and truly into his chosen time and place. The story moves at a good pace, carrying the reader on a rollicking good ride through a landscape strange by today’s standards, but populated with people with whom we can empathise a great deal. Human feelings haven’t changed in centuries, if ever.
One Tiger / Two Tails — highly recommended and available from Paige’s Book Gallery in Guyton St.