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Publication date
1st August 2019


Aardvark Bureau


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US publication date
3rd September 2019



This Mortal Boy

Author Fiona Kidman


A novel based on real events and real people and the events that led to one of the last executions in New Zealand.


This title is not yet published, but can be pre-ordered


Winner – New Zealand Booklovers’ Prize for Fiction 2019

Winner – NZ Heritage Book Awards 2018

Shortlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

‘The offender is not one of ours. It is unfortunate that we got this undesirable from his homeland.’

Auckland, October 1955. If young Paddy Black sings to himself he can almost see himself back home in Belfast. Yet, less than two years after sailing across the globe in search of a better life, here he stands in a prison cell awaiting trial for murder. He pulled a knife at the jukebox that night, but should his actions lead him to the gallows? As his desperate mother waits on, Paddy must face a judge and jury unlikely to favour an outsider, as a wave of moral panic sweeps the island nation.

Fiona Kidman’s powerful novel explores the controversial topic of the death penalty with characteristic empathy and a probing eye for injustice.

‘Like Hilary Mantel, she writes with acute observation and attention to detail, getting inside the skin of her characters’ New Zealand Books
‘A tale about violent acts that is infused with humanity and compassion’ New Zealand Listener
‘Kidman . . . has performed in The Mortal Boy a terrific feat of imagination. . . . This Mortal Boy is to be praised for its sustained storytelling and moral vision.” Mark Broatch, Landfall
‘Her portrayal of Black as a youth who makes an awful mistake is a heartbreaking one….This very human novel is as good an argument as you’ll ever find for the abolition of capital punishment.’ The Spinoff (NZ)
‘This is an important book which reminds us of the fragility of youth and how devastatingly lives can be altered by a moment’s action.’ The Australian Women’s Weekly
‘Where does justice lie? This is an exquisitely written novel from a master storyteller; an important and fascinating read.’ Crime Watch NZ
‘An excellent book. Fiona Kidman certainly knows how to weave a story, keeping the action moving and gripping the reader.’ Marcus Hobson, NZ BookLovers
Bonus Material
What Did They Mean, A ‘Moral Panic’? An Introduction to This Mortal Boy
The Spinoff review of This Mortal Boy
Fiona Kidman

Meet the author

Dame Fiona Kidman is a leading contemporary novelist, short story writer and poet. Kidman has won numerous awards, and she has been the recipient of fellowships, grants and other significant honours, as well as being a consistent advocate for New Zealand writers and literature. She is the President…

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