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Omeros by Derek Walcott


Derek Walcott

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro

Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally

Schindler's Ark

Thomas Keneally

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

The Bone People

Keri Hulme

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

The Whale Rider

Witi Ihimaera

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood

The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay

The Adoption Papers

Jackie Kay

Summer Lightning & Other Stories by Olive Senior

Summer Lightning & Other Stories

Olive Senior

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton


Tim Winton

Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell

Beka Lamb

Zee Edgell

The eighties signalled a period of unprecedented change as social and geographical barriers broke down and the world became an increasingly more connected place. At the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Langkawi Declaration was issued committing Commonwealth members to environmental sustainability. The following meeting in 1991 resulted in the Harare Declaration, re-establishing the core principles of the Commonwealth, and detailing its membership criteria. In this period, the Maldives, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Brunei and Namibia all joined the Commonwealth as independent states.

Questions for your reading group

  • As the world witnessed major events in this decade, such as the end of the Cold War and the start of the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa, why do you think some of the texts in this decade focus on settings where humanity is at its cruellest?
  • How does your text(s) examine the idea of family?
  • There was a rapid rise in women’s employment in this period across the world. How is a woman’s role in society presented in the text(s), and what message is the author trying to convey in it?
  • Two of the texts in this decade are collections of poetry. What poetic techniques does the writer use and how do they impact your reading?
  • How does your text(s) examine the continuing effects of imperialism?
  • What role does faith play in your text(s)?
  • How are characters impacted by their heritage? In what ways does it make their life more challenging and how do they confront it?
  • What other books published between 1982-91 would you recommend?

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