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Paula Morris

Biography

Paula Morris (b. 1965) is a New Zealand author of novels, short stories, reviews, and essays. She also teaches creative writing at the University of Auckland, the city where she was born and raised. Morris studied English, history, and creative writing at universities in New Zealand, England, and the United States. She began her career in the music industry, working for BBC Radio and several record labels.

Morris debuted in 2002 with the novel Queen of Beauty (Penguin New Zealand), a family portrait spanning three generations in New Orleans and Auckland. In this book, she explores how fragile the truth can be, and how heavily the past can weigh on us.  

Since her debut, Morris has published a number of novels, such as Hibiscus Coast (Penguin New Zealand, 2005) and the historical novel Rangatira (Penguin New Zealand, 2011), which won the New Zealand National Book Award for Fiction in 2012. She has also written young adult novels and was the editor of The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (2009).  

Morris's most recent book is the autobiographical essay On Coming Home (Bridget Williams Books, 2015), in which she investigates what it means to feel at home or belong somewhere. Some recurring themes in her work are identity, detachment and alienation, and their cross-cultural impact on the individual.  

After residencies in Italy (Bellagio) and Denmark (Brecht's House), Paula Morris will be the writer-in-residence at the Passa Porta writers' apartment in Brussels in February 2016. During her stay, she will work on a new novel set partly in Brussels. Its themes include contemporary Maori identity, what it means to belong to more than one cultural group, and the European perception of the exotic.   

 

Photo © Mike Brooke

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