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.