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Biopsies is a book of loosely-connected short stories set in a diverse community in South Auckland.


A Serbian refugee struggles with post-natal depression, a Vietnamese boy with a deformed hand is asked to interpret for his grandmother and becomes burdened with a tragic secret, and a doctor becomes reluctantly entangled with a menacing but injured gang leader. Tension within families hovers over many of these gritty stories, but power often proves to be in the hands of those who at first appear weak.

Read an extract from


The House


I don’t know what got me thinking about Saint. Hell, that was a way back now. Too much layabout time for thinking, these days. I had Saint buried, and I like to keep him that way. I grew to hate him, him and his rowdy bike and his rude tatts, and his crime. But he was father to my three tamariki, you have to give him that. A father of sorts.

Must’ve been the smell of mansweat. Sweat and engine grease. Tenacious, doing his apprenticeship. God, I love that young fella. Tall as, but still stoops down to give his Nana a hug when he gets in. I’d die without my moko.


Leah never hugged him, not that I saw. Her own son. Most of his young years she spent inside. She wasn’t there for him and his brother. They grew up with me.


Drugs, eh, and the whole drug business. Saint got them all into it – first Leah and Grace, later Deacon. The money was too good. It even paid for this house. Sundays I would go to St Mary’s and pray, then come home to pick up the pieces of mokopuna. One eye kept shut.

The Mask

Lara looked anxiously in the mirror and her mask stared straight back. A sudden thought made her remove the mascara, and carefully replace it with a waterproof product she bought recently.

Better be safe than wish, her mother used to say.


Lara had been putting off taking Lucas to the medical centre, but after two reminders from the Plunket she made the appointment. And an appointment is like a promise.


Be good as your word, my girl. Her mother again. The tough-life face with the small mouth and laser eyes was getting harder to recall, but her sayings were etched deep. She would have been appalled to see the heaps of clothes on the floor, with milk-stained sheets turning sour and shoes to kick out of the doorway.


If only her energy would return. George didn’t care about the state of the place, as long as dinner was on time and beer was in the fridge. If George cared he would use those strong brown arms to at least clean up the kitchen for her. But he had been crap at housework, even as a flat-mate when Lara first came to Auckland. She knew he would never change, but now she ached for his help with the baby.

Extracts from Biopsies. © Greg Judkins, 2020

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