Read The Uncle's Story by Witi Ihimaera Online


Armed with his uncle's diary, Michael Mahana goes searching for the truth, about the secret the Mahana family has kept hidden for over thirty years, and what happened to uncle Sam. Set in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam and in present day New Zealand and North America, Witi Ihimaera's dramatic novel combines the superb story telling for which he is so renowned with the unfArmed with his uncle's diary, Michael Mahana goes searching for the truth, about the secret the Mahana family has kept hidden for over thirty years, and what happened to uncle Sam. Set in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam and in present day New Zealand and North America, Witi Ihimaera's dramatic novel combines the superb story telling for which he is so renowned with the unflinching realism that made 'The Whale Rider' a literary and cinematic success. A powerful love story bravely told, it courageously confronts Maori attitudes to sexuality and masculinity and contains some of Ihimaera's most passionate writing to date....

Title : The Uncle's Story
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781861058379
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 367 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Uncle's Story Reviews

  • RavenclawReadingRoom
    2019-03-07 12:10

    Oh God, my feeeeeeeeeeelings. This book is beautiful. But this book is absolutely brutal. I sobbed through the last 10% of the book because it broke my feelings into a million pieces. This book is split between the 1970s and the late 2000s. It's split between Michael, a gay Maori man, and Sam, the uncle he never knew he had. It's split between New Zealand, Vietnam and America. It's split between Michael's first person narration and Sam's third person narration. It's brutal because it deals with the harsh realities of the Vietnam War. It's brutal because it deals with homophobia in Indigenous communities. It's brutal because it's basically a New Zealand version of Brokeback Mountain. It's brutal because it's so compelling and so evocative and so powerful. It's brutal because you know exactly how Sam and Cliff's story will end and yet you can't help getting invested in it. (view spoiler)[That said, the sexual side of their relationship felt.......not necessarily consensual at times?? Like, it's a forbidden-love story. They're under incredible time constraints. They clearly love each other. was a little SAM SAID NO AND CLIFF DIDN'T STOP AND I'M NOT VERY COMFORTABLE WITH THIS ALSO MAYBE DON'T HAVE SEX ON A LADDER THAT SEEMS DANGEROUS-y. I also had really mixed feelings about the fact that Michael makes a passing comment to his homosexuality having come from being abused by family members as a child, something he's never discussed with anyone. It just....... I know there are gay men who were abused as children. But something about the way it was worded was...icky. (hide spoiler)]So I'm giving it five stars because it truly was an amazing book. It's heartbreaking and emotive and beautiful and compelling. But be aware that this book is confronting and contains some problematic elements.

  • Raven Loweframe
    2019-03-22 04:07

    I had to read this novel for a course on 'Vulnerable Bodies and Imagined Space'... a lot to do with post-colonial literature. And I re-read it since then, while I tend to get all these books in a box and leave them here. What really struck me was the sheer violence of the novel, notably in Vietnam, and that of Arapeta. But this violence was counterbalanced by moments that alleviated the tension. But it was a tearing story - though I guess I felt a lot more sad about Sam than about Michael. It is the kind of read that makes you think, and wonder: some protagonists act in despicable ways, but have things changed so much? Well, obviously, they have. But the dual stories of both Sam and his nephew show that there is still a long way to go. I am no judge for the written quality of a novel - I am better with plays. But I have to say that it was nice, for once, to have to read a book that did not bore me out of my wits and instead, had me crying, laughing sometimes, and just plain raging throughout. And kept me on my toes as to how things will end. (The last part, I had problems with it, first finding it a bit anti-climatic, and growing fonder of it as time went by.)

  • Val
    2019-03-14 07:09

    There are no gay Maoris. If someone is born Maori and admits to being gay they are thrown out of their tribe, family and village and never mentioned again.Michael 'comes out' to his family at the insistence of his boyfriend, who treacherously dumps him anyway, so he has no lover, no family and no roots, as he sees it, and he feels rather sorry for himself. His aunt gives him a diary written by an uncle he has never heard of and it transpires that this uncle was also gay.So, this book is about being Maori and being gay, but it is not primarily about Michael. It is the story of his uncle Sam (get it?) who fought in Vietnam and it is as good a story or better than anything about that brutal war coming out of the US. The writing is not perfect, but the story is powerful and emotional and easily makes up for any deficiencies.One of my favourite parts is not really about being gay, being Maori or the Vietnam War although it is, in a way, about all of them. It tells of a visit Sam makes to a Buddhist temple and is about half way through the book. This is perfect.

  • John Wiltshire
    2019-03-22 08:56

    A harrowing but ultimately life-affirming read which should be a must-read for anyone interested in gay literature. Witi Ihimaera has a unique insight into being gay in a homophobic community.

  • Hannah
    2019-03-07 05:16

    The first thing I'll say before reviewing is if you are a bit squeamish or find violence very disturbing, perhaps give this one a miss. It's not gratuitous violence but it is still harsh. Parts of the book happen during the Vietnam war which is where the violence comes in. There were moments when I was reading this that I felt a little ill (especially over that coffee while I waited for the car to get fixed) but the book in general was so good I chose to power through.So in general this is such an honest story. The realities of being a gay Maori man are probably still quite hard today, but as half of this story is talking about a gay Maori man during the Vietnam war it would have been exponentially harder. The characters are so well written, I found myself consistently loving, hating and being pissed off with these people who only exist on the page. It feels very historically accurate. And is a very interesting insight into being gay in a culture that can't get its head around homosexuality at all.

  • Simon
    2019-02-28 04:07

    My favourite book

  • Anne-Marie
    2019-02-27 06:06

    This novel immediately became one of my all-time favourites and will be kept within easy reach for re-reads. The novel has two stories/POVs, one of Michael Mahana in 1st person, and the other of his uncle Sam in the 3rd person. It starts dramatically with Michael, a young Maori gay man, coming out to his family at his sister's wedding. Not the best timing for news that is unacceptable in Maori culture. When Michael returns home an outcast, he discovers his relationship isn't what he thought it was either. In this moment of despair, enter his Aunt Pat, who reveals that contrary to what his father made him believe, Michael isn't the first and only gay man in the family. Michael learns of Uncle Sam, who was shunned by the family for being gay, his existence denied. His aunt hands him Sam's journal, so he can learn more about what his uncle went through.This is when the story truly takes off. Sam's story is not told in diary form, but as if we're by his side, when is he sent on a mission of the NZ army to the Vietnam war. He is subjected to the complex and horrific warfare that goes on there, which is realistically and sometimes graphically told. He meets and slowly falls for a sexy, daredevil American pilot, Cliff Harper. Sam's growing awareness of his sexuality, his attraction and later love for the American pilot, Cliff, turns into a love story that I can only describe as epic and unforgettable. It grabbed me by the jugular, tore me apart and then slowly put me back together again. It is told with deep feeling, realism and spirituality. You cannot read this and not be swept up by and emotionally invested in the story of Sam and Cliff. Their love affair dramatically changes the lives of the two lovers, and will have a lasting impact on Michael's life as well.Michael's quest to bring closure to his uncle's story is gripping, heartbreaking and very moving. I'm not ashamed to say I sobbed my way through many parts of it. Without giving anything away, Michael is tested and develops courage, conviction and endurance while putting an end to all the secrets surrounding Sam's life, and bringing peace and healing to those that so desperately need it. As this quest crescendoes, Michael grows into a man who stands up for his beliefs, his homosexuality and those he loves.I read it in one breathless 15-hour sitting and it stayed with me for a long time after. I can't recommend it highly enough. It's a must read, like Michael vows: he will continue to tell Uncle Sam's story until everyone's heard it. This novel deserves that. Perhaps it's interesting to note that the author writes from his own experiences when it comes to the struggles of a Maori gay man, which is palpable and makes it such a convincing, passionate story. I had no idea homophobia was so severe among Maoris.Another novel 'Nights in the Gardens of Spain' is largely auto-biographical, which tells a story that resembles his own coming out.

  • Daniel Gamboa
    2019-03-05 08:02

    To state that "The Uncle's Story" is merely a love story between a Maori and an American soldier during the Vietnam War would be limiting its breadth. It is a novel with many subplots, which have been skillfully threaded by Witi Ihimaera. Sam Mahana and his nephew, Michael Mahana, are both Maori and gay, but is there any room for a man with these two identities in his tribe? Sam meets Cliff Harper, an American soldier, during the Vietnam War. They fall in love, but do they have a future together? Decades later, Michael does not know anything about the existence of this uncle until he decides it's time to come out to his parents. Both Sam and Michael's stories are to be sipped and savoured slowly. At least, this is how I read this novel, for, more than once, I found myself not wanting to go any further and wishing to reflect on their lives. We are social beings, and society sets expectations upon us, but what about our own? If we don't meet them, we are immediately labeled as selfish, but isn't society selfish in their expectations of us?This is also a book that deals with topics such as white over indigenous, male over female and straight over gay domination within modern society, both in the past and in the present. However, above all, "The Uncle's Story" is a love story between two human beings, regardless of their gender and ethnicity."The Uncle's Story" and "Nights in the Gardens of Spain", also by Witi Ihimaera, have become two of my all time favorite novels. They were both a journey of introspection. However, my reason for having given it 4 instead of 5 stars is because the subplot about the Vietnam War was too detailed and long-winded and the subplot about the Indigenous Peoples' convention had a ranting quality that was a tad off-putting.

  • Henry
    2019-03-09 12:18

    More of a Vietnam war book than I'd expected. I also found myself thinking a lot about the movie 'Whale Rider' (the author wrote the book of the same name on which the movie was based). Several characters reminded me of characters from the movie. The overall story was interesting and well written, but just okay. A nice coming-out story with a mystery tacked on. Only towards the end did I realize that the book affected me much more than I'd thought. I was very moved at two scenes towards the end of the book, and after I finished, I was sad that I was no longer going to have any new information about the life of the main character.

  • Aleisha Camilleri
    2019-03-24 09:01

    I had this book sitting in my bookshelf for 2 years, it was a book which I purchased as part of our post-colonial subject in an old literature course but never read due to laziness on my behalf. What a silly move that was!This book is moving in so many ways. there were moments of laughter, tears and horror as Ihimaera takes you through Sam and Michael's journey. It was definitely a page turner. As a reader who tends to confine themselves to fantasy novels, I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone with this one.

  • Robyn
    2019-03-01 09:20

    kea picked up this book and the gay angle piqued my attention. (kea and i both agreed that the cover design is awful and does not make us want to read the book.) anyway, i liked the book, was interested in how the story unfolded and things like that. i really felt for the main character and also for his uncle. there's some sexiness in this book as well. the war scenes kind of lost me, though. mines and shells and stuff don't hold my interest. overall though it was one of those books that i didn't want to put down, until i got toward the end and i wanted to make it last longer.

  • Kat Maher
    2019-03-08 06:22

    This book surprised the hell out of me, I was in the middle of a super-boring Post-Colonial Literature course, loathing all of the books, and then this came along and I fell in love. I normally avoid comparisons like this, but it is like the New Zealand version of Brokeback Mountain. I must caveat by saying that apparently this was the least literary of the books on my course, and apparently the most poorly written, but who cares- it's the only one that i enjoyed, and the story was beautiful.

  • Katherine
    2019-02-25 03:59

    omg i could not get over how good this book was. I had to read this book for my lit class and im so glad i did, it had a brillant story line and a beautiful love story. This was so different than anything i had read before, i usually dont like books that have lots of details about war but in this book i didnt mind. I feel in love with the character cliff and *spolier* the best bit ever was when cliff sings elvis presley and dances at a wedding :P a truly great book :)

  • Katewood16
    2019-03-08 05:57

    A brave book by a Maori writer who takes on homosexuality within his culture. The love between Uncle Sam and Cliff Harper is captivating in that it conveys both passion and love from two men who haven't recognized their homosexuality and don't want to be gay. Graphic in places, and it's not all love and kisses: Michael's life as a gay man is filled with politics, broken romances, clubs and the possibility of marriage and children with a lesbian. At places the plot feels forced.

  • Kylan
    2019-03-19 12:07

    I've always enjoyed Witi's books. I remember reading Nights in the Garden of Spain in one day and walking away breathless but invigorated. The same has happened again with The Uncle's Story. The plot was confronting to me due to the material but I became so engrossed with the characters that I began to care for them. I wanted to know everything. Always a pleasure to read Mr Ihimaera's works and this was no disappointment.

  • Martin
    2019-03-01 12:10

    Crikey, I don't think that I have ever been so affected by a book, I was completely swept up by it, I had to finish it in bed at four in the morning, I cried, a lot. I think that when I have reread this book, and I am sure that I will read it again, I will know better what I tuned into. In the meantime I heartily recommend this terrific read.

  • Mariana
    2019-02-21 06:15

    Yes, this is a great book. It talks about the quandary that I often face. Am I queer or a person of color? And to that I add, am I a person with a disability? It's hard to find support for all the facets of my life. The author does a good job of combining at the end of the book.

  • Marnie
    2019-02-24 08:16

    This isn't a book I would normally read, I had to read it for my literature class at uni and I really enjoyed it. I loved the conflict and issues that the characters had to face, and the love story, while being different to any I had read before, was really beautiful. Definitely worth a read.

  • Elysa
    2019-03-04 10:11

    This was my first experience with war-fiction, and it was a very easy introduction. The focus of the novel is on a gay uncle's diary and how a family and a native tribe react to homosexuality. This book defines "heart-wrenching story," and it is well-worth the read and the cost of tissues.

  • Zib_prophet
    2019-02-26 05:10

  • Rosie
    2019-03-23 05:13

    Incredibly emotional read.

  • Chris
    2019-03-18 06:54

    One of the most gripping NZ novels I have ever read