04 Nov 2010
Wellington writer, Wes Lee, has taken out New Zealand’s top short fiction prize at the BNZ Literary Awards held in Wellington last night.
Lee’s short story ‘Furniture’ was judged winner of the prestigious BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, placing her alongside previous winners and such New Zealand literary icons as CK Stead, Frank Sargeson, Keri Hulme and Charlotte Grimshaw.
The former Auckland University of Technology fine arts lecturer has previously won a number of international and local awards for her writing during the past five years, but says this one is special.
“I don’t think my feet will touch the ground all day” says Lee. “I’ve won overseas awards before but, as a New Zealander and a writer, to win the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award is very special.”
BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award judge and author, Lloyd Jones, had high praise for Lee’s writing calling it, “Sophisticated in its construction, persuasive in its telling, this story is in a class of its own.”
While Wes Lee walked away with the $10,000 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, two further BNZ Literary Awards were also handed out last night.
The Novice category award went to Chloe Searle, an Oamaru curator whose story ‘Babysitting’ saw judge Emma Neale describe her as a “writer of enormous promise”.
Seventeen year old Karamu High School student Brittany Rorrison’s ‘Thirteen Toadstools’ won the Young Writer award. Judge for this category was Emily Perkins who said the Hawke’s Bay student’s story telling was mature and unassuming. “It is an impressive piece of fiction from this young writer” said Perkins.
Andy Symons, Director, Retail at BNZ says it has been a pleasure to have sponsored the BNZ Literary Awards since its beginning 51 years ago.
“Over time the BNZ Literary Awards have evolved to become a reflection of New Zealand. Many past winners have gone on to become some of New Zealand’s most respected writers and we are proud to be able to recognise and support them,” he says.
Established in 1959, the BNZ Literary Awards aim to foster literature in New Zealand and are the country’s longest-running short story awards.
BNZ has been part of the New Zealand landscape for 150 years and holds close ties to Katherine Mansfield. Her father, Sir Harold Beauchamp, was a director of BNZ, a position he held for 38 years. He was also the chairman of the board for 17 years.
The BNZ Literary Awards offer three levels of entry:
• BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, for published writers - $10,000 prize money
• BNZ Novice Writer, for unpublished writers - $1500 prize money
• BNZ Young Writer, for writers who are at secondary school - $1500 for the student and $2000 for the winner’s school