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Blue Smoke Blue Smoke CREDIT: NZ Post Book Awards
Chris Bourke Chris Bourke CREDIT: NZ Post Book Awards

Kiwi Music History Takes Top Literary Prize

Thursday 28 July 2011, 9:19AM
By NZ Post Book Awards


Christopher Finlayson, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, tonight awarded music historian Chris Bourke the New Zealand Post Book of the Year, for his work Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964.

New Zealand Post Book Awards convenor of judges, Paul Diamond, described the winning work as a magnificent book that achieves what it sets out to do, and reveals a hidden social history. 'Blue Smoke tells us about ourselves, our music, and the way we take things from overseas and make them our own.'

Bourke, who lives in Wellington, describes Blue Smoke as “a music history before it is a social or cultural history”. ‘It is a book about music and musicians, many of whom Bourke has interviewed himself, drawing out anecdotes that enrich our understanding of our nation’s cultural development’, says judge Charmaine Pountney. Bourke scored a unique hat trick by also winning the New Zealand Post General Non-fiction Award and the coveted People’s Choice Award.

Laurence Fearnley (Dunedin) wins the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Award for Fiction for her seventh novel, The Hut Builder.

Emily Perkins, who joined Charmaine Pountney, Bob Harvey, Michael Harlow and convenor of judges, Paul Diamond on the Awards judging panel, said this is elating, transformative prose.’
‘In this novel Laurence Fearnley continues her committed exploration of Southern lives, and in doing so creates something new – a 21st century approach to a sort of 20th century Pakeha origin story. Through the character of Boden Black, butcher, poet, and sometime mountaineer, she gives voice to the taciturn archetype of the Great Southern man, and reaches into awkward corners of the psyche with tenderness and empathy’, says Perkins.

Wellington-based poet Kate Camp was presented with the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Award for Poetry for her collection, The Mırror Of Simple Annihilated Souls, described by judge Michael Harlow as a truly thoughtful and engaging book of poems.

Harlow says, ‘In ‘The Mırror Of Simple Annihilated Souls, Kate Camp has rather courageously accepted the challenge to make words sing to that universal and always fascinating experience: what is it that love desires the self to do, and be — in the service of what we can recognise as ‘soul-making. Camp demonstrates a poetic brilliance of her own by making ‘original translations’ of her own in a contemporary idiom that deals with the spiritual dimension of life-lived-in-the world’.

Freelance art historian and curator from Gisborne, Damian Skinner took out the Illustrated Non-Fiction award for his book The Passing World, The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kowhaiwhai.

Awards’ judge Bob Harvey described Skinners’s work as a beautiful book that showcases Hovell’s astonishing design and creativity for marae projects on the East coast, urban Auckland and in the Coromandel.

‘Maori whare whakairo – the decorated meeting houses were often hidden away from the Pakeha world. Many have been lost and the ones that remain are fragile. These elaborately painted and beautifully designed

buildings, have given inspiration to John Hovell's life. From the mid 1960's Hovell has been at the very heart of the contemporary Maori art movement,’ says Harvey.

The full list of 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards winners are as follows:

New Zealand Post Book of the Year and General Non-fiction Award winner:
Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964 by Chris Bourke (Auckland University Press)

Fiction Award winner: The Hut Builder by Laurence Fearnley (Penguin Group (NZ))

Poetry Award winner: The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls by Kate Camp (Victoria University Press)
Illustrated Non-fiction Award winner: The Passing World: The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kowhaiwhai by Damian Skinner (Rim Books).
Bourke also took out the popular vote by winning the People’s Choice Award, as voted for by thousands of New Zealanders nationwide.

The generous prize-pool for the New Zealand Post Book Awards reflects the high calibre of writing being recognised. The winner of the New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award receives $15,000, the winners of the four Category Awards each receive $10,000 and the People’s Choice Award winner receives $5,000.
This year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards winners will appear at a free event:

On Thursday 28 July from 12.15 to 1.45pm at Te Papa Marae, hosted by Kim Hill.

The winners of the 2011 New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) Best First Book Awards – announced earlier this year – were also honoured tonight. They are:

NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction: Pip Adam with her short story collection, Everything We Hoped for (Victoria University Press)

NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry: Lynn Jenner for her collection, Dear Sweet Harry (Auckland University Press)

NZSA E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction: Dr. Poia Rewi for Whaikōrero: The World of Māori Oratory (Auckland University Press).

Each NZSA Best First Book Awards category winner received $2,500.

New Zealand Post Group’s sponsorship of the country’s national book awards is symbolic of their strong and active support of the country’s literature. As sponsor of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards for 15 years, this new sponsorship highlights the company’s commitment to making literature accessible and promoting literary excellence. Working closely with Booksellers NZ, New Zealand Post and other dedicated segments of the community actively encourage New Zealanders to read and enjoy books.
The New Zealand Post Book Awards 2011 are also funded by Creative New Zealand. The Awards are managed by Booksellers NZ and supported by the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.