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Stephen Daisley

Early in Stephen Daisley’s novel about World War II and postwar years, A Better Place, a New Zealand soldier called Roy Mitchell tells a lieutenant they must do something terrible: ‘C’mon boss, we got no choice here.’ This sentiment of compulsion – and this acceptance of the unacceptable – is symptomatic of many of the circumstances Roy endures and of the way he fights, survives, and keeps going across several theatres of war and into the peaceful future he must navigate with his head full of memories.

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For this reviewer, it’s been a long five years since the publication of Stephen Daisley’s Traitor (2010). The rightly acclaimed and award-winning début novel wrote of the terrors of war, and the life on the land of one irreparably damaged New Zealand soldier, David. As an exploration of the damage done to an ordinary and unappreciated man, the prose was ...