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Story set in Nazi-controlled Saarland wins writing prize

Former New Zealand Herald journalist Karen Holdom is this year’s winner of the University of Auckland’s Sir James Wallace Prize in Creative Writing.
Karen won the $5000 prize, the richest university creative writing prize in New Zealand, for her novel-in-progress The Shadow Road set in Nazi-controlled Saarland on the French-German border. It explores the devastating effects of the war on a divided family and region and was inspired by the author’s visit to a German military cemetery in Normandy.

The Faculty of Arts judging team, coordinated by Convenor of the Master of Creative Writing, Dr Paula Morris, described the novel-in-progress “as very accomplished, written with style, control and pace.

The Shadow Road demonstrates the author’s ability to adapt a 'real' and little-known story from World War II into a compelling, often shocking work of fiction.”

Karen Holdom grew up in Taranaki, studied journalism in Auckland and worked for seven years as a reporter at the New Zealand Herald. She later became a freelancer, writing for a range of newspapers and magazines including Sunday Star Times, Metro, North & South, The Listener in New Zealand and The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Melbourne Age abroad. She has written two non-fiction books and researched a number of documentaries and television series.

Master of Creative Writing




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