22 Jul 2014
The quintessential New Zealand character comes to the fore in the finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014, announced today. Selected from 150 entries, the judges say the finalist books capture the essence of the country’s psyche — not just in place and people, but by capturing what makes us tick as New Zealanders.
The judges said they were surprised at how relatively easily they agreed on their choices of finalists. Convenor of the judging panel, Miriama Kamo, says, “As fairly opinionated and confident people we surmised that these finalists were of such quality that they stood up and spoke for themselves. Having said that, not every selection came easily as there were many excellent books from which to choose our finalists.”
The finalists include eight non-fiction books on a variety of themes, among them a biography of Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk, a lavishly photographed journey around our coastline, a search for a family history that was inspired by the Christchurch earthquakes and a re-examination of the Pike River mine tragedy.
Fiction finalists include, not surprisingly, Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winner The Luminaries, set on the West Coast. The three other fiction finalists are Anne Kennedy’s The Last Days of the National Costume — a gripping tale of illicit love, passion and embroidery and The Bright Side of my Condition by Charlotte Randall, based on a true story of four escaped Norfolk Island convicts who were deposited on The Snares — a group of islands south of Stewart Island. Damien Wilkins’ book Max Gate departs this year’s New Zealand theme, with an insightful novel on the death of Thomas Hardy.
The four Poetry finalists include two first-time authors — Caoilinn Hughes for her book Gathering Evidence and Marty Smith with Horse with Hat. Auckland author Michele Leggott’s Heartland follows some of her own movements and moments — to Devonport, to Australia and to the north of the country. Poet Laureate Vincent O’Sullivan’s Us, then explores experience and memory, belief, ways of seeing, other worlds we find set against our own – and individual lives within the frame of a collective history.
“Poetry in New Zealand is in fantastic shape with a number of brilliant new poets making themselves known, Caoilinn Hughes and Marty Smith among them,” says Miriama.
The New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014 judging panel comprises acclaimed New Zealand artist, Dick Frizzell; award-winning Radio New Zealand presenter, Kim Hill; poet and novelist, Elizabeth Smither; and literary critic, Peter Simpson. The panel is convened by broadcaster Miriama Kamo.
Miriama said that the judges congratulated all the finalists on their achievements in being named on the Awards’ shortlist. “We had to make our selections from a very strong field this year. Every author should be proud to be in such excellent company. From new authors to established prize-winning writers, all contributed to a stellar year in New Zealand writing.”
“We would also like to congratulate the publishers of these finalists’ titles. The design and production standards are very high, with some stunning works in the Illustrated Non-fiction category in particular. It’s great to see that the importance of the design, images, typography and paper stock are considered as important as the words themselves. These are all beautiful books and they will be a pleasure to read in years to come.”
People’s Choice opens today
The ever-popular People’s choice award is the public’s opportunity to vote for their favourite book of the year. Eligible books must be written by New Zealand authors and published in New Zealand within the period of 1 June 2013-31 May 2014. Readers can vote online or in a book store. Voting opens on Wednesday, 23 July and closes on Friday, 15 August.
A significant prize pool will see the overall winner of the New Zealand Post Book of the Year award receive $15,000. Winners of the four category awards will each receive $10,000; People’s Choice $5,000; Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice $2,500; and each of the winners of the three New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book awards, $2,500.
National Poetry Day
New Zealand poetry will be celebrated with National Poetry Day on Friday, 22 August with more than 60 colourful events planned for around the country. Aspiring poets, poetry lovers and established poetry writers can enjoy a range of events that will capture imaginations and provide inspiration to not only write their own verse, but also to enjoy listening to poetry and/or performing a piece of poetry.
Winners announced on 27 August
The winner of the New Zealand Post Book of the Year will be announced at a glittering ceremony at Wellington’s Te Papa Museum on Wednesday, 27 August. Also announced will be the four category winners, People’s Choice winner and the Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice award. The three winners of the New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book awards, announced on Wednesday, 16 July, will be presented with their prizes.
The New Zealand Post Book Awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and sponsored by New Zealand Post. The awards are also supported by Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens New Zealand.
The finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014, by category, are:
- The Bright Side of my Condition by Charlotte Randall, Penguin Books
- The Last Days of the National Costume by Anne Kennedy, Allen & Unwin
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Victoria University Press
- Max Gate by Damien Wilkins, Victoria University Press
- Gathering Evidence by Caoilinn Hughes, Victoria University Press
- Heartland by Michele Leggott, Auckland University Press
- Horse with Hat by Marty Smith, Victoria University Press
- Us, then by Vincent O’Sullivan, Victoria University Press
- Coast: A New Zealand journey by Bruce Ansley & Jane Ussher, Random House NZ (Godwit)
- Greer Twiss: Sculptor by Greer Twiss, Dr Robin Woodward & Haru Sameshima, Ron Sang Publications
- New Zealand and the First World War 1914-1919 by Damien Fenton, Penguin Books in association with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage
- Promoting Prosperity: The art of early New Zealand advertising by Peter Alsop and Gary Stewart, Craig Potton Publishing
- A History of Silence by Lloyd Jones, Penguin Books
- Peter McLeavey: The life and times of a New Zealand art dealer by Jill Trevelyan, Te Papa Press
- The Mighty Totara: The life and times of Norman Kirk by David Grant, Random House NZ
- Tragedy at Pike River Mine by Rebecca Macfie, Awa Press
Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice
- Beyond the State: New Zealand state houses from modest to modern, by Bill McKay, Andrea Stevens & Simon Devitt, Penguin Books
- Molesworth: Stories from New Zealand’s largest high-country station by Harry Broad and Rob Suisted, Craig Potton Publishing
- The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson, Random House NZ
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Victoria University Press
For more information, please be in touch with the New Zealand Post Book Awards’ Media Adviser:
T: 04 496 5513
M: 029 286 3650