Axeman’s Carnival

Chidgey, Catherine


8 in stock

8 in stock

Winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2023 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards..

Everywhere, the birds: sparrows and skylarks and thrushes, starlings and bellbirds, fantails and pipits – but above them all and louder, the magpies. We are here and this is our tree and we’re staying and it is ours and you need to leave and now. Tama is just a helpless chick when he is rescued by Marnie, and this is where his story might have ended. ‘If it keeps me awake,’ says Marnie’s husband Rob, a farmer, ‘I’ll have to wring its neck.’ But with Tama come new possibilities for the couple’s future. Tama can speak, and his fame is growing. Outside, in the pines, his father warns him of the wickedness wrought by humans. Indoors, Marnie confides in him about her violent marriage. The more Tama sees, the more the animal and the human worlds – and all of the precarity, darkness and hope within them – bleed into one another. Like a stock truck filled with live cargo, the story moves inexorably towards its dramatic conclusion: the annual Axeman’s Carnival. Part trickster, part surrogate child, part witness, Tama the magpie is the star of this story. Though what he says aloud to humans is often nonsensical (and hilarious with it), the tale he tells us weaves a disturbingly human sense. The Axeman’s Carnival is Catherine Chidgey at her finest – comic, profound, poetic and true.

Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Imprint: Te Herenga Waka University Press
Publication date: 13/10/2022

Staff review

The Axeman's Carnival
by Catherine Chidgey
Review by Josh

Told through the eyes of the cunning, clever, witty and all-round delightful Tama the magpie, this book soars from the first page to the last. Set on a South Otago farm, baby Tama is saved by Marnie and brought home to her not-so-bird-friendly husband Rob.

Every aspect of farm life – long dry summers, sweaty days spent sheering sheep, beers on the front porch – is observed afresh and curiously askew through Tama's vivid imagination. His avian perspective on the lives of the humans around him is utterly unique and thought-provoking, and the story's uneasy, tense undertone throughout keeps you reading on.

A quintessential New Zealand tale, The Axeman's Carnival is, like Tama, an absolute delight, brimming with ideas, critique and a fair amount of cheek.

ISBN: 9781776920051 Category: