So often we return to our childhood and teenage experiences and find our lives shaped by those years. Both Albert Wendt and Victor Rodger have mined those experiences for their work, both have felt the loss of a parent, both have grappled with success and with depression, both have a rich and powerful collection of work.
In 1952 Albert Wendt won a scholarship from Apia to a New Plymouth boarding school and thence to university. His first novel Sons for the Return Home was born out of this “terrible separation from mother and family, country and culture”. His latest memoir deals to his childhood in the Apia slums. Albert recently retired from his professorship at Auckland University.
Victor Rodger was raised in his born-again Christian family in Christchurch in the 1970’s and 80’s, the son of a Palagi mum and a Samoan father. He has been a writer and actor for Shortland Street, a successful playwright (including Sons and Black Faggot), a Fulbright scholar, and currently is Burns Fellow at Otago University.