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Entries A Who's Who In Contemporary NZ Literature

Judges Faced Tough Decisions In A Year Where Submissions Read Like A Who's Who In Contemporary NZ Literature

The finalists in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004 have been announced. There are 26 finalists across eight separate categories, selected from 188 submissions. The 2004 awards take in books published during the 2003 calendar year and celebrate excellence in New Zealand books.

"The competition for front runners was particularly strong in the fiction and poetry categories with the list of entrants looking uncannily like a 'who's who' of New Zealand literature but with some very good new and developing writers also in evidence," said Tony Simpson, convenor of 2004 judging panel.

"Some people may be surprised to see some of the directions and themes our leading writers are exploring, but to me this is a further sign of our strengthening and maturing writing, and our capacity as a society to cope with change and development and to reflect this in the books that we write."

Simpson also said New Zealand was "now also producing world class history and biography writing with parallel strong fields in both these genres. All of the leading contenders succeed in throwing new light on some of the fundamental areas of exploration in both our literary and cultural history, and will delight non-specialist general readers with their accessibility and relevance to living in New Zealand today."

The finalists for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004 are:

Fiction Category: Hummingbird by James George (published by Huia Publishers) Iridescence by Peter Wells (published by Vintage) The Scornful Moon by Maurice Gee (published by Penguin Books) The Sea Between Us by Elizabeth Smither (published by Penguin Books) Slow Water by Annamarie Jagose (published by Victoria University Press)

Poetry Category: The Adulterer's Bible by Cliff Fell (published by Victoria University Press) The Ballad of Fifty-one by Bill Sewell (published by Headworx) Sing-song by Anne Kennedy (published by Auckland University Press)

Biography Category: Long Journey to the Border: A Life of John Mulgan by Vincent O'Sullivan (published by Penguin Books) Mason: The Life of R A K Mason by Rachel Barrowman (published by Victoria University Press) An Unsettled Spirit: The Life & Frontier Fiction of Edith Lyttleton (G B Lancaster) by Terry Sturm (published by Auckland University Press)

History Category: Leisure and Pleasure: Reshaping and Revealing the New Zealand Body 1900 - 1960 by Caroline Daley (published by Auckland University Press) The Penguin History of New Zealand by Michael King (published by Penguin Books) The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas by Anne Salmond (published by Allen Lane / Penguin Books)

Reference & Anthology Category: Robert Louis Stevenson: His Best Pacific Writings edited by Roger Robinson (published by Streamline Creative) Seven New Zealand Novellas edited by Peter Simpson (published by Reed Publishing) Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English edited by Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan (published by Auckland University Press)

Lifestyle & Contemporary Culture Category: Classic Fly Fishing in New Zealand Rivers written by John Kent, photography by David Hallett (published by Craig Potton Publishing) Cooking to Impress - Without Stress by Annabel Langbein (published by Annabel Langbein Books) Ready to Fly: The Story of New Zealand Rock Music by David Eggleton (published by Craig Potton Publishing)

EnvironmentCategory: Birds of Aotearoa: A Natural and Cultural History by Margaret Orbell (published by Reed Publishing) Deep New Zealand: Blue Water, Black Abyss by Peter Batson (published by Canterbury University Press) The Living Reef: The Ecology of New Zealand's Rocky Reefs edited by Neil Andrew & Malcolm Francis (published by Craig Potton Publishing)

Illustrative Category: Central by Arno Gasteiger (published by Viking) Paste Up: A Century of New Zealand Poster Art by Hamish Thompson (published by Godwit) Why go to the Riviera: Images of Wellington by Peter Shaw (published by Godwit)

The Deutz Medal for Fiction and the Montana Medal for Non Fiction, as well as the category and the Readers' Choice Award winners, will be announced at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards ceremony on the evening of Monday 26 July 2004.

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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