Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Victoria University Press dominates book awards

Victoria University Press (VUP) titles dominate the list of finalists for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, announced today.

 Titles by VUP authors make up half of the total shortlist, with a mix of debut writers and some of New Zealand’s finest established writers.

Victoria University of Wellington Emeritus Professor Vincent O’Sullivan and International Institute of Modern Letters Master of Creative Writing teacher Kate Duignan both have novels shortlisted for the Acorn Foundation Prize—the top prize worth $53,000.

The shortlist for the Poetry Award consists entirely of VUP titles: There’s No Place Like Internet in Springtime by Christchurch-based poet Erik Kennedy, Are Friends Electric? by Helen Heath, The Facts by Therese Lloyd and Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble.

Tayi Tibble’s debut Poūkahangatus has received popular and critical praise since its release last year. Tibble says the response to her work encouraged her as a writer and as a young wahine Māori. “The recognition of Poūkahangatus also acknowledges the lives and experiences of the women who came before me, so being shortlisted is very significant to me in that sense.”

 Maurice Gee’s memoir, Memory Pieces, and debut memoir by Chessie Henry, We Can Make a Life, are up for the General Non-Fiction Prize.

Henry’s memoir traces the aftermath of the Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes, both of which affected her family. “There are so many writers across all of the categories that I'm absolutely in awe of ... it’s totally beyond what I ever would have expected for my first book,” she says.

VUP publisher Fergus Barrowman says he is thrilled by today’s announcement. “To have debut authors like Chessie and Tayi alongside New Zealand’s finest established writers like Vincent and Maurice as finalists is a great illustration of the robust health of New Zealand writing, and exactly where VUP wants to be in that picture.”

The winners of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Auckland on Tuesday 14 May.

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