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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Announced: Ockham 2017 Book Awards.

A quick history

Before 1996, there were two major New Zealand literary prizes, the New Zealand Book Awards (1976–1995) and the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards (1968–1993). Montana took over the sponsorship of the Wattie Awards in 1994, and thus became the Montana Book Awards (1994–1995). In 1996, the two awards merged to form the Montana New Zealand Book Awards (1996–2009). In 2010, sponsorship of the awards was assumed by New Zealand Post, which had been supporting the Children’s Book Awards for the previous 14 years. In 2015, the governance and management of New Zealand’s national book awards were assumed by the new New Zealand Book Awards Trust. Ockham Residential Limited became the principal sponsor, and the name of the awards was changed to the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. The award categories were streamlined: the Book of the Year Award and the Booksellers’ Choice and People’s Choice awards were discontinued, and a fourth Best First Book Award and a longlist were introduced. From 2016 on, the awards are held each year in May, as part of the Auckland Writers Festival, in a partnership between the New Zealand Book Awards Trust and the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival Trust.




The Wish Child

Catherine Chidley
Published by: Victoria University Press

The Wish Child subtly examines territory unusual for a New Zealand writer with this original exploration of the edges of a much-written about historic time. Exposing and celebrating the power of words – so dangerous they must be cut out or shredded, so magical they can be wondered at and conjured with – Chidgey also exposes the fragility and strength of humanity. Elegantly written, there is an innerness to the book’s narrative which gives it authenticity and even authority. The fey, mysterious voice of the Wish Child, and the very human voices and activities of the book’s other children, are compelling and memorable. You’ll be caught by surprise with its plumbing of depths and sudden moments of grace, beauty and light.


Fits & Starts

Published by: Victoria University Press
Andrew Johnston

The judges’ admiration for Andrew Johnston’s remarkable collection grew with each rereading, as its rich intellectual and emotional layers continued to reveal themselves. Fits & Starts is a slow-burning tour de force, each image, metaphor, theme deeply, fully imagined. It draws on a complex amalgam of sources, including the King James Bible, the radio alphabet, Ovid’s Metamorphosis and, and rewards the reader’s intelligence, attention and patience. Using a minimalist couplet-form, the collection is at once philosophical and political, witty and moving, risky and grounded, while maintaining a marvellously varied singing line. To reward Fits & Starts with the overall poetry prize is to reward New Zealand poetry at its most impressive and its most promising.


A History of New Zealand Women

Published by: Bridget Williams Books
Barbara Brookes

Putting women at the centre of our history, this sweeping survey shows exactly when, how and why gender mattered. It combines deep research, an immensely readable narrative, superbly well-integrated images and it is distinguished by close attention to both Māori and Pākeha women. General changes in each period are combined effortlessly with the particular, local stories of individual women, many not well-known. A wider sense of women’s experiences is beautifully conveyed by the many well-captioned artworks, photographs, texts and objects.



Can You Tolerate This?

Published by: Victoria University Press
Ashleigh Young

Ashleigh Young’s Can You Tolerate This? is a collection of personal essays that sets a high bar for style and originality in a form that has very little precedent in this country. Young takes the events in her life, including her family, her jobs, and all the emotional complications of living in this world and with remarkable honesty delivers a shrewd and honest reckoning. Always an acute observer, it is in Young’s commitment to writing as an art that the true miracle occurs; she tells us her story and somehow we get our own.

Best First Book

About the Best First Book Awards

The Hubert Church Award for Fiction was awarded from 1945 by PEN NZ (later the New Zealand Society of Authors), and named for Hubert Church, a poet, novelist and critic who died in 1932.

The Jessie Mackay Award for Poetry was awarded from 1940 by PEN NZ and named for the first locally born poet to achieve national prominence.  The Judith Binney Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction is named for the late historian Dame Judith Binney, whose several ground-breaking books demonstrated her lifelong commitment to researching and writing about the history of New Zealand.

The E H McCormick Award for General Non-Fiction is named for the late Eric McCormick, the eminent historian and biographer of Frances Hodgkins.



Black Ice Matter

Published by: Huia Publishers
Gina Cole

Gina Cole’s short stories are vivid and compelling; this is a new, assured and vibrant voice in Aotearoa New Zealand and Pasifika fiction. Exploring the extremes of heat and cold, peopled with strong, interesting characters you want to know more about, these stories alternatively burn you down, freeze you in your tracks, comfort or cool you. Cole’s precise and elegant writing startles and delights, and it's exciting to read.



Hera Lindsay Bird

Published by: Victoria University Press
Hera Lindsay Bird

Hera Lindsay Bird’s eponymous debut collection is sassy, funny, seductive. It charms as it dares the reader to be shocked by its sexual frankness and revelations, by its insouciant dismissal of the past, its enjoyment of its own verbal and conceptual conjurations, its sheer performative energy. A particular pleasure is the exuberance of the metaphors and similes, where the pop spear-tackles the antique, the louche the romantic, the trivial the grand. There’s a hymn to hate, an elegy to ex-girlfriends, a paean to bad taste, a rejection of poetry, a celebration of poetry, an invitation to ‘slap yourself in the face with a mohair glove’ and to ‘say true-sounding things and never mean them’. These poems take no prisoners.



A Whakapapa of Tradition: One Hundred Years of Ngāti Porou Carving, 1830-1930

Published by: Auckland University Press
Ngarino Ellis and Natalie Robertson

A careful re-tracing of the evolution of the Iwirākau School, which reinvigorated carving in the Ngāti Porou iwi after it became dormant in the 1830s, this book builds on earlier scholarship with extensive new research. Ngarino Ellis mounts an absorbing argument about tradition, innovation and how culture is transmitted. Natalie Robertson’s magnificent photographs of meeting houses, carvings and landscapes are integral to the narrative. Together they demonstrate the enduring role of carving at the heart of community and rangatiratanga.


My Father’s Island

Published by: Victoria University Press
Adam Dudding

My Father's Island is a triumph of narrative, prose, and the great Kiwi yarn. Readers come so uncomfortably close to memories of joy, tension and mystery — a testament to Adam Dudding's skill as a prose stylist and a storyteller. Yet My Father’s Island is more than just its aesthetics — it’s also an important piece of cultural history with Dudding approaching his subject, his father Robin Dudding, as only a journalist would and could, uncovering family secrets never told. Yet My Father’s Island remains, above all, a memoir, an enthralling account of life and family.

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