Kiwi Klassics: Paul Millar on Coal Flat by Bill Pearson
In a tribute to Lydia Wevers 1950–2021
Sunday 14 May 2023, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM, The Joy Cowley Room, The Royal Hotel. $15
Bill Pearson’s essay, Fretful Sleepers: A Sketch of New Zealand Behaviour and Its Implications For The Artist, published in Landfall in 1952, has had a kind of cult status in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is the voice of an outsider – a sensitive boy brought up as a working-class West Coaster, an academic, writer and gay man at a time when homosexual activity was illegal. His iconic novel, Coal Flat, set in an insular community on the West Coast of the South Island, describes the collision between new ways of thinking and the established order. Pearson’s description of the motivation behind Fretful Sleepers sums up the message of Coal Flat: “A plea that there should be greater variety and tolerance and sensitivity.” Bill Pearson's biographer, Paul Millar, will traverse one of this country's provocative books and a fascinating life.
The profits from ticket sales for this event will be donated to the Lydia Wevers Scholarship in New Zealand Studies.