On March 23, 2021 Margaret S. introduced the club to the works of Lloyd David Jones, a contemporary New Zealand author. Jone’s novel “Mister Pip” was the recipient of a Commonwealth Writer’s prize and was short-listed for the Booker Prize.
Margaret demonstrated how Mr. Jones sees people in a different lens, sensitive to the complexity of human relationships. She discussed “Mister Pip”, “Paint Your Wife”, short stories from “The Man in the Shed”, and his memoir “A History of Silence”. Her emphasis on Jones’s ability to hear silence made me want to discover more about his work.
Presented to the Calgary Women’s Literary Club by Margaret Sparkes, March 23, 2021
Lloyd Jones is an award-winning author from the Wellington metropolitan area on the north island of New Zealand. He has travelled widely but, like most Kiwis I have met, always returned to his home base.
He appears to be a relatively private person because he doesn’t have his own web page (or perhaps he is simply not a lover of technology). However, his book A History of Silence: a Memoir provides a fascinating glimpse into his family.
I find Jones’ writing style to be beguiling in its simplicity (he worked as a journalist for a time). He is also adept at speaking flawlessly in the voices of his characters, like a young girl in his novel Mister Pip, or a young boy witnessing (and narrating) a crisis in his parents’ marriage in his short story The Man in the Shed.
He looks at life and people through a different lens than many, so his writing is often described as quirky. I prefer to see him as imaginative, although some of his short stories in particular are certainly offbeat or surprising. Jones is also a keen observer of human behaviour, which is evident in all the books of his that I read. He describes his characters and how they act without judgement or prejudice.
Certain recurrent themes become apparent in his writing: his love of art and its power to soothe and heal or bring understanding, relationships of many kinds – in crisis, in love, with oneself, with parents – and the desire of some to leave peaceful, sleepy New Zealand for perceived, though not necessarily real, opportunities that its much larger neighbour Australia seems to offer.
It was a delight to discover the writings of Lloyd Jones.