Children of the Poor: NZ Novel
1975 edition of a remarkable NZ novel.
Good Reads commentary on this novel ;
'Children of the Poor' is a memoir of John A. Lee's childhood, originally written under a pseudonym.
To understand 'Children of the Poor' a little knowledge of John A Lee's politics is required. John A Lee was a New Zealand Labour politician in the 1920s and 30s. Lee was known as a particularly radical socialist and often criticised his own party for being too centrist and orthodox.
The essence of Lee's argument is that poverty breeds crime and misery among the lower classes, and only a socialist state can solve the problems of New Zealand society.
Lee's story traces his childhood from his illegitimate birth through to his progression into criminal life. Lee's narrative takes place mainly in Dunedin with a brief respite in the small town of Riversdale.
Lee doesn't pull any punches as he exposes the seedy underbelly of the New Zealand poor. He unflinchingly discusses how the poor in turn of the century New Zealand endured the misery of child prostitution, malnourishment and the social stigma of poverty. The content of 'children of the poor' still has the power to shock even today's jaded readers.