A Reflection on Writing a Pasifika Mystery

Malua, Elisabeth
Manasiadis, Vana
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Master of Creative Writing
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Auckland University of Technology

Understanding the Enigma is the story of a group of young Pasifika people and the two (and related) mysteries which particularly involve two members of the group: Mele and Lee. Mele has apparently attempted suicide, although she cannot remember the night of the event and denies it, and Lee disappears after arguing with Mele about this. Each of the remaining characters try to understand what has happened, and Cory Matthews, a therapist, is enlisted to help. Part One follows Mele’s and Seth’s POV as they navigate their world post these events, Part Two follows Mele’s, Seth’s and Dexter’s memories of Lee via the recorded transcripts of their interviews with Cory, Part Three and Four reveal the unexpected truths and surprising heroic characters.

Understanding the Enigma also seeks to explore the struggles of Tongan Pacific Islanders through the novel’s characters. Most importantly, this novel explores the realist themes of power vs powerlessness, culture clash and cultural identity, poverty and its consequences. The novel uses Multiple POV, the anti-hero as protagonist, and flashback to explore these concerns, and move the plot along. These aspects are particularly reflected upon in the exegesis.

Understanding the Enigma is indebted to the various texts that have inspired its journey. These include: Wild Dogs Under My Skirt by Tusiata Avia, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky, Inside Us the Dead by Albert Wendt, Bend it Like Beckham by Gurinder Chadha. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay Gibson.

Cultural clash , Suicide , Crime , Identity
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