Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Print Media Dominate Review Awards Shortlist

Print media have taken all six shortlist spots in this year¹s BPANZ Review Awards.

Presented each year in conjunction with the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, the BPANZ Review Awards recognise the vital importance of articulate, responsible, informed criticism in maintaining a healthy literary culture.

This year's judges, former BPANZ Reviewer of the Year winner, David Eggleton and publisher, Elizabeth Caffin said the quality of this years review entries is a sign of the health of reading and writing in this country at the moment.

We were impressed by the increasing sophistication of reviewers. Lively reviews written with style and showing a familiarity with authors and their context were the norm, the judges said.

The finalists in the BPANZ Reviewer of the Year category are: Jolisa Gracewood, Charlotte Grimshaw (right) and Paula Morris (left).

Reviewers submitted a portfolio of three to five reviews for consideration by the judges. This year all three shortlisted finalists¹ reviews were published in the New Zealand Listener.
The judges said that the best review pages and programmes entered this year covered a range of titles and revealed a strong sense of their reader.

The finalists in the 2008 BPANZ Review Page or Programme Award are:
Landfall, the New Zealand Listener and Sunday Star-Times.

The BPANZ Review Awards are one of the only avenues that publicly recognise the role of literary critics.
The BPANZ Reviewer of the Year receives a $1,000 prize. Special acknowledgement will also be made for the best short print review (less than 500 words) and best long print review (more than 500 words).

The awards for BPANZ Best Review Page or Programme Award will be made to the publication, website or programme which presents the best selection book reviews in a style relevant to their target audience.

Special acknowledgement will also be made for the best magazine review pages and best newspaper review pages.

The principal sponsors of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards are Montana and Creative New Zealand. The awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and supported by Book Publishers Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.

The winners of the BPANZ Review Awards will be announced at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards gala dinner on Monday 21 July at the Wellington Town Hall.


Anonymous said...

Three things:
I think Paula Morris is an excellent reviewer for the Listener.That she lives overseas but is a true blue Kiwi gives her an advantage of perpective that others may not always have.
I am surprised though that a Listener reviewer is a also a judge, and of course the Listener and its reviewers are well represented in the shortlist. Don't get me wrong I like the Listener and its book reviews, read them every week, but the organisers are asking for ctiticism in this case.
And the other thing is I am surprised there are no radio reviewers on the shortlist. Are they considered? National Radio has a great stable of book reviwers to whom I listen every weekday.

Anonymous said...

Barry Rosser perhaps has a point. There is no question in my mind that Eggelton is the best book reviewer in the land and winning this award himself on several occasions is testimony to that. In addition you have a fine former publisher in Elizabeth Caffin as the other judge. I have no worries about their judgement at all but as my Dad used to say, "folk are queer", and I suspect that the organisers may come in for some flack.

Anonymous said...

Stop pussyfooting around, one of the judges with his Listener work clearly has a straightforward conflict of interest. I am amazed that there are not more comments about this.

Beattie's Book Blog said...

I know David Eggleton slightly and indeed I published him back in 1986 during my Penguin days. The book was "South Pacific Sunrise", cover photo of Eggleton by Gil Hanley and cover design by the late Richrd King, with three inside ilustrations by Barry Linton. It sold well because back in those days no poet, apart from Sam Hunt of course, could draw the crowds like Eggleton, he was a genuine ranter with great appeal, especially on university campuses. These days he is an author & art historian and certainly one of NZ's outstanding book reviewers. I once jokingly suggested that he should be banned from ever again winning the Reviewer of the Year Award because he had won it so often. There is no doubt he is impeccably qualified to be a judge for these awards.
I feel for him in this present situation.He is a high principled and responsible sort of guy and he and Elizabeth Caffin, (herself no slug as a reviewer), make a great pair of judges in my opinion.
However with the great benefit of hindsight perhaps the organisers and Eggleton himself should have forseen the potential for people suggesting a conflict of interest?
Personally I am relazex about it but obviously not everyone feels the way I do on the matter.

Anonymous said...

This is real storm in a tea cup territory and apart from those of us in the book trade, and a few grumpy journalists, no one will even be aware of it let alone care about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not doubtinbg the guy's qualifications Bookman, nor his integrity, but hey what about the appearances and the perceptions?Let us just hope they do not choose the Listener as the best review page. Then the manure would hit the fan!
I vote for the Sunday Star Times myself. They use a wide range of well read reviewers, (Iain Sharp for example), across a wide range of books and their five brief reviews each week are excellent.I always buy the mystery titles that are positively reviewed.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps because Eggleton is a free-lancer at the Listener they (the Listener) agreed to him doing it.
In hindsight it was probably an unwise decision by all concerned (judge, his employer, and the organisers) as it does look a bit dodgy.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Bookman Beattie in his assessment of David Eggleton. He is widely admired and trusted and I think his integrity will see him through what for most would certainly be a clear conflict of interest.
For this reason there is unlikely to be much comment on your blog, unlike the disgraceful and most disappointing decison by the Montana judges to only shortlist 4 fiction titles which drew forth so many angry responses two weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

I've only just stumbled across this discussion, and am surprised. I have to say that the idea of a conflict of interest never occurred to me.

My first thought when I heard David Eggleton was one of the judges was not "whoopee, a shoo-in for a Listener writer" but "how fitting that one of our best reviewers finally gets to review the reviews!" Closely followed by "oh good, a chance for someone else to win," given that he generally - and deservedly - wipes the floor with the competition!

I think Barry, Bob, and tiny tim overestimate the chumminess of the Listener "stable," if there can even be said to be such a thing. I've been writing for the Listener for about six years, and have never met David, nor Paula (we live at opposite ends of the USA) nor Charlotte -- although I admire their work fervently and would love to invite them over for a natter. (No storms in our teacups, just Earl Grey, hot).

We are all freelancers (none of us does this for a living - pocket money at best) with a direct relationship with the Listener arts and books editor, but not with each other. And all of us write and review for - and read and admire - other outlets besides the Listener. So if it's a cabal, it's a pretty lame one.

If anything, I think this is just another measure of how small the New Zealand book world is. Is there a qualified judge who doesn't have some sort of "conflict of interest" or, as we might otherwise call it, inevitable overlap?

Lastly, it is entirely plausible that the common ground among the 3 finalists is not that they've published in the Listener, but that they submitted the 3 most alluring portfolios for consideration. But I couldn't possibly comment. Conflict of interest and all that :-)