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About the book
  • Published: 9 April 2009
  • ISBN: 9781869791087
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $24.99

Dead People's Music

A Novel




The first novel from the winner of the SST Short Story competition 2006 and one of New Zealand's most exciting young writers

Classical is karaoke - just playing covers of dead people's music - or so Wellingtonian Rebecca concluded at her London conservatorium. She's sabotaged her scholarship there, but wants to keep playing the cello, like her grandmother, Klara. Now unmoored from her classical training, she's in New York City, where Klara grew up. As Rebecca investigates her Jewish-refugee heritage, she starts to compose her own songs, but has to contend with diabetes and other burning issues: is she with the right man, or should she swap stability for lust? And how much longer can she live with a neurotic, junk-scavenging flatmate, on the verge of murdering another zebra fish?

  • Pub date: 9 April 2009
  • ISBN: 9781869791087
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $24.99

About the Author

Sarah Laing

Sarah Laing is a fiction writer and graphic artist. Born in Urbana-Champaign, USA, in 1973, and raised in Palmerston North, she studied at Victoria University, and worked as a graphic designer in Wellington and New York City. She won the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition in 2006, and has since published a short story collection, Coming Up Roses, and a novel, Dead People’s Music. Of the latter, a reviewer on Radio New Zealand National said, ‘It’s wonderful . . . fantastic . . . it’s one of the best first New Zealand novels I have ever read. [The places are] very vividly drawn . . . it’s a marvellous journey that [Rebecca] goes on . . . This is clever, clever writing, strong characters, wonderfully evoked setting and I highly recommend it.’

Laing was a Michael King Writers Centre Writer in Residence in 2008, was awarded the Buddle Findlay Fellowship in 2010, and received the Michel King Writers’ Centre six-month University of Auckland Residency to work on a graphic novel about Katherine Mansfield that is part-biography, part-memoir and part-fiction. I

In her most recent novel, The Fall of Light, she combines the form of a traditional novel with graphics. See more on her website (www.poppyshock.com), Twitter (@sarahelaing) and blog (sarahelaing.wordpress.com).

The Press identified Laing as ‘our next great short-story writer . . . a real talent . . .a writer of intelligence and wit’, and in The New Zealand Listener, Paula Morris wrote ‘the verve and clarity of the writing in Coming Up Roses, along with the wry, offside skewness of many of its stories, reminded me of reading Emily Perkins’s first book’.

Maggie Rainey-Smith, reviewing Dead People’s Music on Beattie’s Blog, wrote, ‘Think somewhere between Zoe Heller and Zadie Smith. It is a book that takes itself seriously while being witty and insightful, tender and scathing, smart and innocent, fast-paced and even a little bit disgusting … The prose is utterly confident and never seems to falter.’

Laing is also a talented illustrator, and is acquiring a reputation as a graphic artist and cartoonist, publishing her quirky images in such publications as Metro, Book Notes and Little Treasures, and on her popular blog. She illustrated Paula Green’s collection of poems for children, Macaroni Moon.

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