Ten top reviewing tips from Harry Ricketts

Harry Ricketts is a writer, poet, reviewer and co-editor of New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa.

  1. Merely describing the book’s/film’s/play’s contents is not nearly enough.
  2. Get off to a fast start and keep it moving.
  3. Place the work in an appropriate literary, cultural or intellectual context.
  4. Offering judgement on the relative quality and worth of the work is part of the reviewer’s task; try not to pull punches.
  5. Be bold, honest and fair.
  6. Reviewing is not part of the publishing marketing arm: don’t write a blurb.
  7. Be clear, coherent, even witty.
  8. Try to give the review an argument.
  9. Use examples from the work to back up the argument.
  10. Use paragraphs of at least four to five sentences in length.


Harry Ricketts’s favourite NZ book is Elizabeth Knox’s The High Jump: New Zealand Childhood trilogy (2000), because of its subtle and utterly compelling portrayal of adolescence.




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