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Judge From Controversial Year Returns

Judge From Controversial Year Returns To Head Panel For Montana New Zealand Book Awards

Tony Simpson [Wellington] has been named convenor of the judging panel for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004. He is joined on the judging panel by academic and J K Baxter expert Paul Millar [Wellington] and poet and former publisher Anne French [Wellington]. All three are practising writers whose backgrounds and depth of knowledge about New Zealand writing stand them in good stead for the task before them.

Tony Simpson, a judge for the awards last year, says: "It's clear from the books to hand that these 'Montanas' [Montana New Zealand Book Awards] are going to deliver a classic year. It's going to be a hard day's night doing justice to them all, but I'm relishing the task ahead. The range and standard of books to be assessed - including the first books - is a vindication of everything the awards stand for and set out to do and it's great to be part of that process for a second year."

The judging of New Zealand's best books published during the 2003 calendar year is carried out across eight categories - Fiction, Poetry, Biography, History, Reference & Anthology, Environment, Illustrative, and Lifestyle & Contemporary Culture - and follows strict guidelines. Criteria given primary consideration are: enduring literary merit and overall quality of authorship; quality of illustration and graphic presentation; production factors including jacket design, general design, typography, indexing and the standard of editing; impact of the book on the community taking account of factors such as topicality, public interest, commercial viability, entertainment, cultural and educational values, lifespan and value for money.

The judges are supported by eight specialist category advisors and a Te Reo Maori advisor. The judges and advisors for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards were chosen by the Montana New Zealand Book Awards Management Committee from a broad range of nominations put forward by literary and book trade organisations.

The Montana New Zealand Book Awards celebrate excellence in New Zealand books. The 2004 awards take in all books published during the 2003 calendar year. Over the months ahead the judges and advisors will be reading and assessing hundreds of books submitted in eight categories. Their first task will be to identify finalists in each category. Five finalists will be selected in the Fiction category and up to three finalists will be selected in each of the Non Fiction categories. Finalists will be announced on Friday 4 June 2004.

All winners will be announced at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards ceremony on the evening of Monday 26 July, 2004. Non Fiction category winners each receive a prize of $5,000. One of the category winners will be announced as the winner of the Montana Medal for Non Fiction and will receive a further $10,000 in prize money. One Fiction category finalist is announced as the winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction and will be presented with prize money of $15,000. Two runners-up in the Fiction category will be announced and will each receive a prize of $2,500.

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, the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.

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