Helen McNeil recommends Tane's War by Brendaniel Weir - Cloud Ink Press, 2018
Brendaniel Weir was born in Auckland and has been an LGBT community activist since he took part in the Homosexual Law Reform marches as a schoolboy.
In 2013, he graduated with a Masters of Creative Writing (Hons.), also winning the post-graduate writing prize. Tane's War is his first novel.
It's 1953 and two young men are working on a classic New Zealand sheep farm. They are both trying to work out what it means to be a man in a world where the definition of manhood is narrow and chauvanistic.
Their supervisor is an older man called Tane who served, with distinction, in World War Two. He has a long kept secret that must, he feels, never be revealed.
The two young men, Briar and Aussie, begin an illicit love affair. A dangerous thing to do in a time when homosexuality was a crime and the prevailing ideal of manhood not only excludes homosexuality, but treats it as abhorrent.
Brendan develops a double story. The reader follows the tender emergence of Briar and Aussie's love affair. The reader also learns Tane's story of his own sexuality and how important it was to keep it secret during his time in the army. Tane must decide how to act when the young men's love for each other is exposed. To further complicate the human interactions, his Maoriness brings out the worst in the red-necked community.
This book is a compassionate portrayal of the impact of bigotry and exclusion and how human love is essential, whatever time people live in. I highly recommend it.