Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Ockham NZ Book Awards – Where To From Here?

/ By  - The Spinoff

Long-lister Greg McGee pokes his head above the literary parapet

The Antipodeans has had a brilliant run, already in its 3rd print, and being short-listed for the Ockham NZ Book Awards would have been the icing on the cake, so I’m disappointed it hasn’t made it. That’s okay: win some, lose some, and good luck to those who have made it. Time is money in business, but writers know that money is time, time to write, and the $50,000 for the winner of the Acorn Foundation Literary Award will equate to priceless time for one of the four short-listed authors.

Now that I’m out of the running, it might be safe to express my reservations about the Ockham. I know the risk I’m running in sticking my chin out – that old left-right combo, Sore Loser! Sour Grapes! – but I’m old enough and ugly enough to be past worrying too much about career impact and all that.  

The Ockham is a fantastic initiative, and I commend the Ockham partners for committing to it, but I had concerns when the personnel of the judging panel was originally announced (long before that panel long-listed my novel). My concerns weren’t related to the abilities of the individual judges; more that all three were so deeply imbedded in the NZ literary scene


Gordon McLauchlan said...

I couldn’t agree more with Greg McGee. His is the most accomplished NZ novel I’ve read in years. Literature and criticism here are in danger of becoming more and more introverted and and tied to academia.

Doris Mousdale said...

I concur with Greg. I was fully expecting his name to be on the shortlist.In fact I stated that I thought Antipodeans was an award winner the moment it was published and I read it. Talking to his readers-my customers- they all say the similar things. He has that clever way of managing multiple storylines, his characters come fully formed, and he pokes you every now and then, just hard enough, so that you don't become a complacent reader.
Many writers will not want to make waves in case they themselves drown in the backwash but we must get away from the "who's had who" family tree of New Zealand writers that have formed a very tight back-patting circle.
I congratulate the finalists unreservedly but I would have put money on the inclusion of Gregg McGee's in this years list.To quote an old bookseller;" Not often I am right but I am wrong again"

Kevin Chapman said...

Guys. Greg is not complaining about not being short-listed. He is talking about the structure of judging panels in a very small literary community. Please don't make it about The Antipodeans.