The Second World War
Guthrie Wilson is, like Davin and Courage, a New Zealander who has made a reputation overseas since the war. He began with Brave Company, 1951, based on a battle incident in his own war service. Its theme is the corporate bond which a group of soldiers develops, and the consequent value of the war experience. The Feared and the Fearless, 1954, is more openly brutal. Strip Jack Naked, 1957, a civilian novel, is also a deliberate exploitation of violence. Julian Ware, 1952, deals with the pastoral society of Canterbury of which Courage writes, while Sweet White Wine, 1956, is a competent exploration of personal relationships in a North Island setting.
War service is also the subject of M. K. Joseph's I'll Soldier No More, 1958, which follows men through their behind-the-lines training in England, with its intolerable, boring disruption of life. There are scenes in France and occupied Germany, but Joseph is concerned with philosophic and religious issues rather than with action or bloodshed. Action, on the other hand, is the material of Errol Brathwaite's Fear in the Night, 1959, and An Affair of Men, 1961, which deal with the war against the Japanese enemy. Both have stronger characterisation than is usual in swift straightforward writing of the type.
One novelist has written of the returned servicemen's troubles on returning home. Gordon Slatter's A Gun in My Hand, 1959, has a rich Kiwi gusto. As his hero boozes his way through the country to a battalion reunion, Slatter satirises with lively distaste most of the less flattering aspects of post-war New Zealand life. The book is overcrowded, but vigorous, and very successful in rendering the colloquial idiom.