Hue & Cry

The Mermaid Boy
by John Summers

Published 7 May 2015
ISBN: 978-0-473-31645-7
Paperback, 140mm x 210mm
Order from the store

The Mermaid Boy marks the arrival of a distinctive new voice in New Zealand non-fiction. From Christchurch to China, from mattress manufacture to Burmese medicine, these true stories explore one man's experience with the exotic and the mundane. Witty, perceptive, and often surprising, The Mermaid Boy introduces striking new ways to write about love, travel, and home.

John Summers' work has appeared in a wide range of publications. Along with Hue & Cry Journal these include Turbine, NZ Listener, NZ Herald, and JAAM, and forthcoming in Sport. Summers is a co-founder of and regular contributor to Up Country, an online journal for creative non-fiction about the outdoors, and he has a Masters (with distinction) from the University of Canterbury.

Listen to John talk to Pip Adam about Ronald Hugh Morrieson's The Scarecrow on Better Off Read

John in conversation with Lawrence Patchett, editor of The Mermaid Boy.

Read Lawrence Patchett's launch speech

Responses to the book

'This book is an achievement of much clarity and grace, but more importantly it is a work of promise.'
- Landfall Review Online

'These strange, fetching yarns of outsiders, losers, and other average New Zealanders read like fiction, with their artful crafting of unlikely events - there's a slow boat to China, a kid in a mermaid suit, and a dildo on a doorknob in a dingy flat in Christchurch. It's non-fiction as murky realism, and its down low, observational, fun.'
- Steve Braunias

'The Mermaid Boy is a beautiful, robust collection of work. John Summers offers readers experiences and recollections that are somehow communal - non-fiction stories of growing up, flatting, work and travel. It is the quiet, commonplace aspect of his observation that gives this work such emotional depth. Every once in a while a book comes along that you read, re-read, and treasure. This is one of those books.'
- Laurence Fearnley

'He is a self-deprecating narrator with a rare empathy and tenderness for even the most hopeless people he encounters... These true stories have the shape of good fiction, making Summers a writer to watch.'
- Philip Matthews,

'Strong writing, a compassionate and empathetic heart and an eye for the humorous side of our world...'
- Booksellers NZ

'Summers is a masterful story teller, with a prodigious way with words. An excellent winter read.'
- Wairarapa Midweek


Hue & Cry is a 170mm by 240mm literary slash art journal & publishing press based in New Zealand.

Read More


Where you can purchase Hue & Cry over the counter.

Read More


Hue & Cry accepts unsolicited submissions. Send us your writing and/or art submission here.



Online Store

Purchase Hue & Cry (current & back issues), Press titles, and subscriptions here.

Read More