Sia Figiel

Sia Figiel, born in 1967 is a Samoan novelist and poet whose work is published in New Zealand. She is often described as Samoa's first woman novelist. Her first book, where we once belonged (1996), won the Best First Book award in the South East Asia/South Pacific region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1997. Her second novel is They who do not grieve (1999). While both are novel-length narratives, neither conforms to a 'traditional' narrative structure. One account from publisher Pasifika Press suggests that where we once belonged 'attempts to structurally represent one of its central themes: the dominance of the community identity and continuity over the identity and growth of the individual.'

Figiel has also published two volumes of prose poetry, Girl in the Moon Circle (1996), and To a Young Artist in Contemplation (1998). Her poetry won the 1994 Polynesian Literary Competition.

Well known as a performance poet, she is a frequent guest at literary festivals. Figiel has held residencies at the Institucio de les Lletres Catalanes, Spain; the Pacific Writing Forum at the University of the South Pacific; the University of Technology, Sydney; and the East West Center – Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawaii.

By this author

Often fiction allows authors to tell truths that otherwise would be too painful. Sia Figiel is uninhibited in The Girl in the Moon Circle, an observation of life in Samoa for perceptive and inquisitive 10-year old Samoana. Samoana describes the detail of her life so well that we are both outraged and charmed by it. She talks about school, church, friends, family violence, having refrigerators and television for the first time, crushes on boys, and legends.

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Winner of the 1997 Asia/Pacific Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for fiction. In Where We Once Belonged Sia Figiel uses the storytelling traditions of Samoa to weave together experiences and dreams to tell the story of Samoan village life through the eyes of thirteen year old Alofa Filiga. It is spirited and fiercely written. Where We Once Belonged is an unflinchingly honest, poetic and often wildly funny coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of 1970s Samoa — a society on the cusp of change.

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