Wellington Ph.D student, Hamish Clayton has won the NZSA Best First Book Award for Fiction – the country’s highest accolade for an emerging writer - for his novel, Wulf.
The honour is one of three New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) Awards announced today which recognise standout new writers across fiction, poetry and non-fiction categories. The Awards are part of the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards; the country’s premier prizes for literature.
Awards’ convenor, Chris Bourke says the judges’ described Wulf as one of the most memorable debut novels in recent times.
“Hamish Clayton's first novel is a work of bravura lyricism, a brilliant feat of imagining that transforms historical events which occurred in early nineteenth century New Zealand into metaphor and myth.”
District Court and Family Court judge, John Adams wins the 2012 NZSA Best First Book Award for Poetry for his collection, Briefcase.
Mr Bourke says the judges considered Briefcase to be a daring debut that marries law and poetry; a challenging, creative and moving collection.
“Using clever language play, Adams has created a poetry smorgasbord of plain poems, lyrical lines, traditional forms, fake documents, a Sudoku puzzle and so on. But what takes this collection beyond the post-modern gymnasium is its ability to affect you.
“His experimentation with form depends upon the heart as much as it does the intellect.”
One of the country’s best-known designers, Michael Smythe took the NZSA Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction with his work, New Zealand by Design.
“In this lively examination of New Zealand industrial design, Michael Smythe champions the innovators and visionaries. He also rues the follies and the political and economic decisions that have stymied far-sighted ideas from our designers,” says Mr Bourke.
The judging panel which also includes multi-award winning poet, writer, critic and journalist David Eggleton, writer, publisher, book designer and typesetter Mary Egan, poet, reviewer, writer and anthologist Paula Green, writer and Maori and Pacific literature specialist Reina Whaitiri (Kai Tahu) agreed that the winners are all writers whose future work is keenly anticipated: they have taken creative risks or explored fresh historical territory, and succeeded with aplomb.
The full list of 2012 NZSA Best First Book Awards winners is:
NZSA 2012 Hubert Church Award for Fiction: Wulf by Hamish Clayton (Penguin Group, NZ)
NZSA 2012 Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry: Briefcase by John Adams (Auckland University Press)
NZSA 2012 E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction: New Zealand by Design by Michael Smythe (Random House New Zealand)
Each NZSA Best First Book Awards category winner receives $2,500.
New Zealand Post’s sponsorship of the national book awards reflects their long-standing support for literacy and education. They maintain that focus throughout the year with initiatives such as ReadWriteGrow.co.nz, creative writing contests for school students, and the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards which they have sponsored for the past 16 years. That commitment to promoting literacy, excellence in writing and the joy of reading sees New Zealand Post play a key role in supporting other champions of literature, such as Booksellers NZ, to promote and reward local literary talent.
The New Zealand Post Book Awards 2012 are also funded by Creative New Zealand. The Awards are managed by Book Awards Governance Group, administered by Booksellers NZ and supported by the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.