In this witty, original and teasingly controversial account, some forty years after the death of Jesus, Judas finally tells the story as he remembers it. Looking back on his childhood and youth from an old age the gospel writers denied him, Judas recalls his friendship with Jesus; their schooling together; their families; the people who would go on to be disciples and followers; their journeys together and their dealings with the powers of Rome and the Temple.
His is a story of friendship and rivalry, of a time of uncertainty and enquiry, a testing of belief, endurance and loyalty.
But life for Sam has never been better: a grown-up, half-French daughter from a long ago affair has recently got in touch, and he has walked into a lucrative role in the booming banking sector.
It is only when he learns of the deaths of two friends within a week that intrigue begins to intrude on his contentment, that life begins to feel a little more precarious.
Professor Harry Butler is obsessed with the Mind/Body problem. Unfortunately, this is not the least of his problems. Harry's wife has turned his study into a sufi shrine where she sits cross-legged and chants for hours on end: "I am not this body..." And Harry doesn't know it yet but the Drug Squad have taken up residence in his kitchen so as to observe the movements of his neighbours and their visitors. Among these visitors, photographed by the drug squad, is one of his oldest friends. And living next door is a woman Harry may have had an encounter with in Singapore.
The University is no escape from these complications on the domestic front: Harry's relationship with a student is causing concern among the Philosophy Department Women's Collective. Some of his colleagues also suspect him of going astray academically.
The story takes place in Auckland, New Zealand. But who is telling the story? Why is he in Europe? Why does he keep moving from one city to another, and why does he seem to require the presence of a certain Uta Haverstrom in order to write it?
The Death of the Body is a delightful blend of wit, intelligence and excitement.
When Donovan O'Dwyer, his colleague and fellow expatriate New Zealander dies, Newall attends the funeral. Afterwards, Newall reveals to his old friend Bertie Winterstoke the secret that O'Dwyer carried with him to his grave. During the battle for Crete in the Second World War, a soldier in New Zealand's Maori battalion died in harrowing circumstances. Believing his commanding officer, O'Dwyer, was responsible for the death, the soldier's family placed a makutu, a Maori curse, on him.
Winterstoke demands to be told all, and in the days that follow Newall obliges. But Newall's life and O'Dwyer's are curiously interconnected and Newall finds that he must interweave O'Dwyer's tale with his own - his childhood in New Zealand, his self imposed exile in Oxford, his marriage and divorce, the pilgrimage recently made to Croatia and the promise of a new beginning that this may hold. Gradually, through a series of entwined stories, beautifully told, reflecting on decades of war and of peace, on memory and its failures, and on language and its limitations, Mike Newall comes to see a way of laying the ghosts of O'Dwyer's - and his own - past to rest.
It was their dreamtime. The wider world beckoned from the white ships sailing past Rangitoto Island, but the dream was also here on the Takapuna shoreline of Auckland, where the artist Melior Farbro grew his vegetables and let Cecilia Skyways follow her own form of Zen Buddhism in his garden hut. Where Curl Skidmore, his brilliant young head full of novels waiting to be unravelled, could dream of God, Fame, Nirvana, Great Love, or maybe just sex. Where not even the harbourfront strike of 1951 could convince them that life wasn't about poetry and painting and potential.
There was Australian Samantha Conlan, clever, desirable, hopelessly in love with married Jewish New Zealander Freddy Goldstein, who carried with him a dark history. Rajiv, an earnest young Indian at work on a study of Yeats and the Indian mind. The enigmatic Margot, whose bond with her athletic brother Mark troubled Laszlo in ways he didn't quite understand. Heather, the call girl with whom Laszlo exchanged lessons on Shakespeare for lessons in love.
The great writers of the time, and the details of their lives are recorded by Samantha in her idiosyncratic research project that she named her Secret History of Modernism. There was all of that and more, and then there was Laszlo, knocking blindly about among them, despairing at his academic prospects, and gradually realising that he was, would only ever be, a storyteller. Now, years later, from the other side of the world, the people seem to spring to life again, in this beguiling work by one of New Zealand's foremost writers.