Bridget Williams Books, 2015

I used to be afraid that I would never come home.

Like the hapless Tony Last in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, I imagined myself stranded somewhere, unable to find a way out. Last desperately wanted to return home to England, but he was trapped deep in a South American jungle, condemned to read Dickens aloud to his madman captor, staring down a permanent exile. Or perhaps, like Gustav von Aschenbach in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, I’d be consumed by ‘a feeling of bafflement and hopelessness’, dying on some foreign Lido while hauling myself out of a deckchair.

In this essay – part of BWB Books’ series of ‘short books on big subjects from great New Zealand writers’ – Paula Morris interrogates her fears about giving up an expatriate’s life, writing from the heart about what it means to assume the mantle of ‘New Zealand writer’, and considering questions of nationality, displacement and artistic inspiration.


 “Morris manages the best kind of autobiography: an individual story that resonates across the New Zealand experience, and with anyone who has ever felt a conflicted homescape. On Coming Home is impossible not to take personally; a short, sharp 80-page essay that provokes intense reflection on where, after all, one belongs. Highly recommended.’
– Elizabeth Heritage, Booksellers NZ

“It’s fabulously literary and deeply personal, and its charm is to be found in the interplay between Morris’ own experiences and her evocation of the lives and writings of so many others … to be applauded as a contribution to the intellectual life of us, whoever we turn out to be.’
– Margie Thomson, New Zealand Herald