The 40 books longlisted for the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards announced today are a wide-ranging and inspiring collection reflecting the diversity of contemporary Aotearoa and the excellence of our writers, artists and publishers.
Traversing cultural, historic, artistic and political landscapes, the longlisted books explore who we are as a nation, from our social issues and natural environment, to the lives of our artists and explorers, imagined experiences and worlds. The list features exciting debut writers as well as a number of previous award-winners and literary stars.
Ten books are longlisted in each of the four awards categories – fiction, poetry, illustrated non-fiction and general non-fiction.
‘This year’s awards drew over 170 entries, a 12 per cent increase on the previous three years,’ says the New Zealand Book Awards Trust’s Dr Paula Morris. ‘We’re seeing an unprecedented number of brilliant and beautiful books, with this wide-ranging longlist a distillation of the best for readers to devour. Competition will be fierce in all categories.’
The 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlisted titles are:
Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize:
- The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press)
- Lonely Asian Woman by Sharon Lam (Lawrence & Gibson)
- Necessary Secrets by Greg McGee (Upstart Press)
- Auē by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press)
- Moonlight Sonata by Eileen Merriman (Black Swan, Penguin Random House)
- Pearly Gates by Owen Marshall (Vintage, Penguin Random House)
- Attraction by Ruby Porter (Text Publishing)
- A Mistake by Carl Shuker (Victoria University Press)
- Loving Sylvie by Elizabeth Smither (Allen & Unwin)
- Halibut on the Moon by David Vann (Text Publishing)
Mary and Peter Biggs Awards for Poetry:
- Craven by Jane Arthur (Victoria University Press)
- Listening In by Lynley Edmeades (Otago University Press)
- Back Before You Know by Murray Edmond (Compound Press)
- Under Glass by Gregory Kan (Auckland University Press)
- Moth Hour by Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press)
- Ransack by Essa-May Ranapiri (Victoria University Press)
- How to Live by Helen Rickerby (Auckland University Press)
- Lay Studies by Steven Toussaint (Victoria University Press)
- Because a Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean by Sugar Magnolia Wilson
- (Auckland University Press)
- How I Get Ready by Ashleigh Young (Victoria University Press)
Illustrated Non-Fiction Award:
- Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai, Damian Skinner (Te Papa Press)
- Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance edited by Stephanie Gordon, Matariki Williams, Puawai Cairns (Te Papa Press)
- Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys edited by Catherine Hammond and Mary Kisler (Auckland University Press and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki)
- Funny As: The Story of New Zealand ComedybyPaul Horan and Philip Matthews (Auckland University Press)
- The New Photography: New Zealand’s First-generation Contemporary Photographers edited by Athol McCredie (Te Papa Press)
- We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall and Tim Denee (Massey University Press)
- Louise Henderson: From Life edited by Felicity Milburn, Lara Strongman, Julia Waite (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)
- McCahon Country by Justin Paton (Penguin Random House)
- Colin McCahon: There is Only One Direction, Vol. 1 1919-1959 by Peter Simpson (Auckland University Press)
- The Meaning of Trees: The History and Use of New Zealand’s Native Plantsby Robert Vennell
General Non-Fiction Award:
- Women Mean Business: Colonial Businesswomen in New Zealand by Catherine Bishop (Otago University Press)
- Dead People I Have Known by Shayne Carter (Victoria University Press)
- Dead Letters: Censorship and Subversion in New Zealand 1914-1920 by Jared Davidson (Otago University Press)
- Shirley Smith: An Examined Life by Sarah Gaitanos (Victoria University Press)
- Wild Honey: Reading New Zealand Women’s Poetry by Paula Green (Massey University Press)
- Finding Frances Hodgkins by Mary Kisler (Massey University Press)
- Towards the Mountain: A Story of Grief and Hope Forty Years on from Erebus by Sarah Myles (Allen & Unwin)
- The New Zealand Wars | Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa by Vincent O’Malley (Bridget Williams Books)
- Fifteen Million Years in Antarctica by Rebecca Priestley (Victoria University Press)
- Whale Oil: One Man’s Fight to Save His Reputation, then His Life by Margie Thomson (Potton & Burton)
The 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist of 16 titles will be announced on 4 March 2020. The winners, including the four MitoQ Best First Book awards, will be announced at a ceremony on 12 May as a marquee event during the 2020 Auckland Writers Festival.
The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize will award $55,000 in 2020. It is judged by author, journalist and reviewer Mark Broatch; short story and non-fiction writer Nic Low (Ngāi Tahu) and Chris Baskett, a passionate reader of local fiction and an independent Tauranga bookseller of 20 years’ standing. An international judge, whose identity will be revealed in March 2020, will join them to decide the ultimate winner from their shortlist of four.
Finalists and the ultimate winner in the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry will be selected by publisher and acclaimed poet Kiri Piahana-Wong; poet Tim Upperton,whose collection The Night We Ate the Baby was anOckham New Zealand Book Awards finalist in 2016, and Phillippa Duffy, whose two decades in the book industry include publishing, board positions and bookselling.
The General Non-Fiction Award will be judged by Hocken Librarian and experienced documentary and cultural heritage collections advisor Sharon Dell; respectedbookseller, reviewer and practising artist Stella Chrysostomou andwell-known journalist, presenter and voracious reader Guyon Espiner.
Odessa Owens, an award-winning publisher andWhitireia publishing programme tutor, is joined in judging the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award by Lana Lopesi, an independent critic, editor and author, and Hamish Coney,an award-winning writer, arts advisor and founder and former director of the auction house Art+Object.
The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, the Acorn Foundation, Mary and Peter Biggs CNZM, MitoQ and the Auckland Writers Festival.