A Distraction of Opposites


Published by Hazard Press, New Zealand


ISBN: 0-908790-42-2

Published: 1992

Flattered by the attention of a major literary figure, Catherine soon learns that all is not what it seems in New Zealand’s world of ‘letters’, as she is drawn deeper and deeper into Broadbent’s sinister web of paternalistic fantasies.

A Distraction of Opposites is a compelling new work. Moving between dream and reality, it skilfully explores the abuse of male literary power and should be read by all aspiring writers, especially women.



(New Zealand Herald, 1993)

‘Her experimental stories are about discovery, they are graceful, rainbow-coloured, often funny. The book explores the force and value of the irrational in art through a rich symbolic layer of literary offspring, creative compost, corruptive spiders, hands, light, fire… credible plot and engrossing themes that are at once satirical and poignant. How I do honour her gusty risk-taking.’ 

(Daily Telegraph, 1993)

‘A Distraction of Opposites is a chilling and cautionary tale. In this most competent first novel Arnold skilfully moves between dream and reality and explores the abuse of power. Her writing is clean and taut, her characters convincing, her denouement satisfying. The book is no comfort or cosy duvet of a novel, rather it disturbs and extends the frontiers of Zealand writing.’ 

(Christchurch Press, 1993)

‘The connections are strong, like the thread of a spider’s web which, with its menacing resident are recurring themes in Sandra Arnold’s well-constructed and very impressive first novel. The tension is maintained throughout, the rhythms of speech and narrative beguiling. This is a remarkably assured piece of work.’ 


(Christchurch Star, 1993)

‘Surreal irrational gems… full of inventive leaps of the imagination… not a comforting tale but one that shocks and challenges throughout.’ 

(Southland Times, 1993)

‘A recognisable slice of New Zealand suburbia… weird and bloody, but strangely compelling.’


(New Zealand Books, Winter, 1993)

‘A Distraction of Opposites is based on mind-fucking, not the other kind. It skilfully explores the abuse of male literary power and should be read by all aspiring writers, especially women.’ 

(Australian Women’s Book Review, March, 1993)

‘A controversial first novel by New Zealander, Sandra Arnold. A Distraction of Opposites deals with the abuse of male literary power and shows some of the forms it can take. Like it or not such people exist and A Distraction of Opposites is an instructive book for all aspiring writers.’ 

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