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Prestigious book awards to be judged by peers

Prestigious book awards to be judged by peers

The judging panel for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2006 has been announced. With two writers and a publisher making up the panel supported by eight category advisors and one Te Reo advisor, all with writing and publishing backgrounds, authors with entries in this year’s awards will be well and truly under the scrutiny of their peers.

Lawrence Jones, Emeritus Professor at the University of Otago, writer, editor and reviewer for numerous New Zealand literary journals, has been named the convenor of the panel. Jones, who was a judge in the 2001 awards, says he’s looking forward to being involved again. “Judging is a challenge to formulate my literary opinions and my reasons for them and to engage in stimulating discussion with the other two judges.”

Linda Burgess, Wellington-based novelist, script writer and teacher of creative writing, along with Aucklander Bob Ross, a publisher and strong advocate for New Zealand books with over 40 years’ experience in the trade, make up the panel.

The judging panel follows a strict set of guidelines taking into account enduring literary merit and overall authorship; quality of illustration and graphic presentation; production values, general design and the standard of editing and the impact of the book on the community, with emphasis on issues such as topicality, public interest, commercial viability, entertainment, cultural and educational values and lifespan of the book.

The judging of the awards is carried out across eight categories each with specialist advisor to assist the judging panel. A Te Reo specialist has also been appointed. This year’s advisors also boast strong writing and publishing credentials:

Fiction – David Eggleton, a respected writer, poet, arts critic and film-maker from Dunedin.

Poetry – Elizabeth Smither, an award-winning poet, novelist and short story writer based in New Plymouth.

Biography – Chris Bourke, Wellington-based writer, biographer and producer of Radio New Zealand’s Saturday Morning programme.

History – Rachel Barrowman, an award-winning writer and freelance historian from Wellington, with a particular interest in New Zealand cultural and intellectual history.

Reference & Anthology – David Elworthy, a long-time publisher, who formed and

managed Shoal Bay Press in Christchurch until his recent retirement.

Lifestyle & Contemporary Culture – Scott Ashton, a part-time freelance journalist with a background in corporate communications and sponsorship. He heads the commercial team of the Auckland Museum.

Environment – Janet Hunt, Waiheke-based writer and graphic designer with a lifelong interest in the environment. Her book A Bird in the Hand: Keeping New Zealand Wildlife Safe was the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year 2004.

Illustrative – Grahame Sydney, the Otago artist who has been painting full-time for more than 30 years. His book, The Art of Grahame Sydney won the Montana Medal for Non Fiction in 2000.

Te Reo Advisor – Patu Hohepa of Ngâpuhi, Te Atiawa, currently the Mâori Language Commissioner and member of Te Waka Toi (the Mâori culture and heritage board).

Judges and advisors are selected by the Montana New Zealand Book Awards Management Committee from a broad range of nominations put forward by literary and book trade organisations. The finalists across all categories will be announced on Friday 2 June and the winners on Monday 24 July 2006.

The principal sponsors of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards are Montana and Creative New Zealand. The awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and supported by Book Publishers Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.

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