Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Adam Prize goes to post-apartheid tale
This year's winner is Rayne Cockburn for her novel Someplace for Boys. Set in a beach community in the Transkei in 1995, it explores a crucial period of social change in South Africa. Concentrating on two white adolescent boys, the book explores race, identity and friendship.
Supported by Wellingtonians Denis and Verna Adam through the Victoria University Foundation, the $3000 prize is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the Master’s in Creative Writing programme at Victoria's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML).
Rayne is originally from South Africa, coming to Wellington two years ago to complete her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a second major in English Literature. Prior to her Master’s she had no experience as a fiction writer and has not been published.
Damien Wilkins, co-convenor of the Master’s programme, says he felt privileged to be among the first readers of Rayne's novel.
“I think it's a remarkable book. On the face of it there's a simple story of a white family at their holiday home in the Transkei and then the story deepens and you realise you're reading about an entire nation. The novel feels 'important' but it's always humble—that's a deeply exciting combination. It's also very funny at times.”
Award-winning author and TV presenter Emily Perkins was external examiner for Someplace for Boys. She praised the novel's beautifully drawn characterisations, the unpredictably unfolding story, the poise of its language and called it “a superb achievement”.
Mr Wilkins said the standard of folios was extremely high.
“We seem to say this every year but it happens to be true—there were a number of writers who might have won this year's award, including some exceptional poets.”
Previous Adam Foundation Prize recipients include authors Catherine Chidgey, Paula Morris, William Brandt and Eleanor Catton.