Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Literary Heavyweights Vie for Top Writing Honours
Four of the
country’s most respected novelists are in the running for New Zealand’s richest
fiction writing prize with today’s announcement of the 2017 Ockham New Zealand
Book Awards shortlist.
Prize-winning novelist Catherine Chidgey’s The
Wish Child is one of the contenders for the $50,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction
Prize, as are multi-award winning writer Owen Marshall’s Love as a Stranger, critic, poet and novelist C.K. Stead’s The Name on the Door is Not Mine, and critically
acclaimed poet and novelist Emma Neale’s Billy
The prize, now
in its second year, is awarded through the
generosity of one of the Acorn Foundation’s donors.
Foundation Fiction Prize judges’ convenor, Bronwyn Wylie-Gibb, says all four
finalists demonstrate compelling writing, surprising plots, sudden poignancies,
sharp humour and beautifully observed characters. “These are the books that we
loved, that provoked, that excited us, and that we are still thinking about.”
For the first time in the history of
the New Zealand Book Awards, an international judge will assist in selecting
the winner of the fiction category.
Canadian writer Madeleine Thien will be the first to assume this role. New
Zealand Book Awards Trust chair, Nicola Legat, says this country’s
writers have long wished for an international view of their books, and
having an international judge will now be a permanent feature of this award.
further reports that judges across all categories found selecting a shortlist
in a very tight longlist field difficult. “The overall standard of publishing in New Zealand
in the last year was so very high.”
Poetry category, the finalists are Tusiata Avia’s Fale Aitu| Spirit House; Hera Lindsay Bird’s Hera Lindsay Bird; Andrew Johnston’s Fits & Starts, and Gregory Kan’s This Paper Boat.
The Poetry convenor,
Harry Ricketts, says that each finalist was highly accomplished, ambitious,
demanding and rewarding. “The quality of
long-listed collections by experienced poets was extremely high, so too that of
first-timers. And the collections, so striking, so innovative, were so
distinctive in poetics and in content. Each [of the four finalists] pushes you
outside your comfort zone, adjusts your expectations, sends you back to
discover new things about the poems, about yourself reading them.”
The finalists in the Illustrated Non-Fiction
category are Barbara Brookes’ A History of New Zealand Women; Warren Moran’s New Zealand Wine: The Land, the Vines, the People; Peter Simpson’s Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch
1933-1953, and Ann Shelton: Dark
Matter edited by Zara Stanhope.
production enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the Illustrated Non-Fiction
shortlisted books, with crisp photography and fascinating historical images
complemented by great design,” says the convenor, Linda Tyler. “They each showcase the skills of Aotearoa New Zealand’s writers,
editors, designers, printers and publishers, presenting aspects of our life and
culture in original and compelling ways,” she says.
The General Non-Fiction category’s finalists are Anthony
Model World: Travels to the Edge of Contemporary Art; Adam Dudding’s My Father’s Island; Ben
Schrader’s The Big Smoke: New Zealand
Cities, 1840-1920, and Ashleigh Young’s Can You
Tolerate This? Convenor Susanna Andrew says the
judges chose the books that thrilled them with their vigour, originality and
wisdom. “These four stood apart
from the rest from the very start for their honesty and prose style and for
being alive to the very art of writing.”
The winner of this category will receive the inaugural Royal
Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction.
finalist books were selected by four panels of three specialist judges and were
drawn from 40 longlisted titles out of a total of 150 entries.
The 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
finalist titles are:
FOUNDATION FICTION PRIZE
·The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria
·Love as a Stranger by Owen Marshall (Vintage, Penguin
·Billy Bird by Emma Neale (Vintage, Penguin
·The Name on the Dooris
Not Mine by C.K. Stead (Allen & Unwin)
·Fale Aitu | Spirit House by Tusiata Avia (Victoria University Press)
·Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird (Victoria University Press)
·Fits & Starts by Andrew Johnston (Victoria University Press)
·This Paper Boat by Gregory Kan (Auckland University Press)
·A History of New Zealand Women by
Barbara Brookes (Bridget Williams Books)
·New Zealand Wine: The Land, the Vines, the People by Warren Moran (Auckland University Press)
·Ann Shelton: Dark Matter, edited by Zara Stanhope and managing
editor Clare McIntosh (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki)
·Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953 by Peter Simpson (Auckland University Press)
ROYAL SOCIETY TE APĀRANGI AWARD FOR GENERAL NON-FICTION
·This Model World: Travels to the Edge of
Contemporary Art by Anthony Byrt
(Auckland University Press)
·My Father’s Island by Adam Dudding (Victoria University Press)
·The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities, 1840-1920 by Ben Schrader (Bridget Williams Books)
·Can You Tolerate This? By Ashleigh Young (Victoria University Press)
(including of the four Best First Book awards) will be announced at a ceremony
in the Aotea Centre on Tuesday May 16, 2017, held as the first public event of
the Auckland Writers Festival. The awards ceremony is open to the public.
Tickets to the event can be purchased via Ticketmaster once festival bookings
open on Friday 17 March.
New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New
Zealand, the Acorn Foundation, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd and the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi.