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Montana New Zealand Book Awards - Winners

MEDIA RELEASE - Saturday 20 July 2002

Controversial books win New Zealand's premier literary awards.

Prime Minister Helen Clark tonight announced the winners of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards at a gala function in Auckland.

Dunedin author Lynley Hood won the Montana Medal for Non Fiction worth $10,000, for her controversial A City Possessed: The Christchurch Civic Creche Case (published by Longacre Press). Hood's book was the winner of the History category, for which she also received a prize of $5,000 at the awards ceremony.

The convenor of the judging panel, Witi Ihimaera said A City Possessed is "an extraordinary book that cannot be ignored. With great tenacity, Hood leads us to an understanding of how the events in Christchurch could have occurred. The courage of Dr Hood in pursuing the book's publication has given us a narrative that, for all its controversy, makes it a stand-out not just in this year but in any year."

Many hundreds of New Zealanders obviously agreed with the judges on this - A City Possessed was the clear winner of the coveted Reader's Choice Award.

The prestigious Deutz Medal for Fiction, worth $15,000, went to rookie Craig Marriner for his debut novel Stonedogs (published by Vintage). Marriner's novel was selected over the works of two previous Deutz Medal winners who were also shortlisted for this major award - Elizabeth Knox (for Billie's Kiss) and Lloyd Jones (for Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance). Stonedogs also won the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction.

Ihimaera describes Stonedogs as subversive and crackling with energy. He said "it's a terrific relentless rock 'n roll roller coaster of a read… it's blackly funny, it's disarming, it has a wink in its eye, and it bleeds all over the place. It has extended riffs about gang behaviour, race relations, greed and rampant consumerism and just when you think things can't get any worse, they do. Its fertility is simply breathtaking. Most of all, Stonedogs is a true New Zealand original."

An Honour Award was presented to the book Eruera Manuera by Te Onehou Phillis (Huia Publishers). Eruera Manuera has achieved a special place in the history of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards - it is the first book written entirely in the Maori language to be selected as a finalist (it was a finalist in the Biography category). The judges concurred that Eruera Manuera is an outstanding and important book and it represents a landmark for both Maori writing and for New Zealand publishing. The Honour Award presented tonight recognises its significance.


Some fifty books by first time authors were entered in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards this year. The judges commented that this demonstrates that "this country's writing, publishing and selling industries maintain their vigorous commitment to growing and developing our publishing culture in all areas of endeavour." A prize of $1,000 was awarded to each of the three winners in this section.

The winner of the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction is Stonedogs by Craig Marriner, published by Vintage. "The absolute antithesis of the 'university novel'" is how the judges described this novel. "It's marked by a terrific energy, fertility and passion that's quite unique in our literary history."

The winner of the New Zealand Society of Authors Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry is Husk by Chris Price, published by Auckland University Press. The judges said of her writing "she makes us see things freshly and the way she deploys language makes us relish it as if we have only just discovered it."

To complete the trio, the winner of the New Zealand Society of Authors E H McCormick Best First Book Award for Non Fiction is Fool's Paradise by Steve Braunias, published by Random House. The judges described this collection of essays as "wide-ranging, infuriating, eclectic, interrogative and funny."


New Zealand's avid readers also had their say in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards by voting for their favourite book, selected from the 10 books shortlisted for the Deutz and Montana medals.

This year A City Possessed: The Christchurch Civic Case by Lynley Hood (published by Longacre Press), was the clear winner, drawing 40% more votes than its nearest rival.

The winner of this award was presented with a distinctive bronze sculpture by Bay of Plenty artist Rolly Munro.

A W REED LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD The recipient of the A W Reed Lifetime Achievement Award 2002 is Maurice Shadbolt. During his long and active career Shadbolt developed an impressive and well-respected publishing history and has provided great encouragement and assistance to many of New Zealand's foremost writers early in their own careers. Shadbolt's triptych of award-winning, historical novels (Season of the Jew, Monday's Warriors and The House of Strife) remain amongst the most important works of historical fiction by a New Zealand writer. Sean Shadbolt accepted the $1,000 Award on behalf of his father.


The Montana New Zealand Book Awards celebrate excellence and this extends to recognition of the art of reviewing books and the high standards set by the review pages in New Zealand's diverse array of print media. This year's two judges were bookseller Jill Upchurch and well-known columnist, author and critic Colin Hogg.

The Reviewer of the Year Award goes to Jane Hurley. Hurley reviews primarily for the NZ Listener. Chris Bourke was highly commended for his reviews written for North & South.

The Review Page of the Year Award has been won by North & South. The Otago Daily Times was highly commended.

These awards are organised in conjunction with the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and supported by the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand.


The principal sponsors of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards are Montana Wines and Creative New Zealand. The Awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and supported by the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Society of Authors.

This year's judges have said of the sponsors that "the awards recognise the great investment made by these industries in the cultural capital of the country. They affirm the highest standards of excellence in the literary and publishing arts."


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