Lives Less Ordinary

New Zealand Listener · 29 Apr 2019 · By MAGGIE TRAPP

Sixteen dark but well-crafted snapshots of Kiwi life.

Michael Botur’s work grabs you by the throat and won’t let you go. In True?, the
Whangārei writer’s second short-story collection, we get up close and personal with a
welter of struggling, striving, forgotten, neglected, complicated, likeable, unlikeable,
smart and, often despite themselves, charming characters, each muddling his or her way
through life in today’s Aotearoa.
These stories dwell on moments of loneliness and regret in prose that is beautiful in its
frankness and charming in its understated humour. In Because I Love Him, we watch as,
maddeningly, a young girl is blind to the tragedy she is making of her life, yet we’re pulled into her story partly because of Botur’s lovely, inviting prose: “We lurch home on drunken streets, waves of tarmac lapping our feet.”
Botur is a master of voice and tone. His stories throb with what feel like real people, real
conversations, real moments of pain and hope, misunderstanding and reconciliation, remorse and surprise. And that’s the magic of this collection – what feels like real life can be so lovingly crafted and captured in all its minute detail. As we read these disparate chronicles of all manner of New Zealanders careering from disappointment to intimacy and back again, we’re left wondering how much of Botur’s content is taken from real life and how much is a crafted lie – and why this distinction matters.
TRUE? SHORT STORIES, by Michael Botur (, $25)





  • Whangarei Libraries Flash Fiction Competition 2019 – 2nd
  • Northland Short Story Award – for highest Northland place in the National Flash Fiction Day Competition
  • North & South Short Story Story Competition 2019 – 2nd
  • Whangarei Libraries Flash Fiction Comp 2015 – 1st and 2nd place winner
  • Guest Fiction Writer (August 2014) – Tākahe magazine
  • Miles Hughes Award – Third place in 2014
  • Takahe poetry competition 2012 – runner-up
  • Dan Davin Literary Award 2009 – Highly commended
  • NZSA Short Story Competition 2008/9 – Third, for ‘Latter Day Lepers’
  • Kiwi Short Story Competition, 2009 – Second, for ‘Home D’
  • Her magazine Short Story Competition, 2008 – Winner
  • F*nk short short story competition, 2005 – 2nd



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