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Waikato’s new Writer in Residence

4 December, 2008

Catherine Chidgey - Waikato’s new Writer in Residence

Novelist Catherine Chidgey will be Waikato University’s Writer in Residence in 2009.

Chidgey’s first novel In a Fishbone Church was published when she was just 27 years old and won the best first book for fiction in the 1998 Montana book awards. Two years later she published Golden Deeds to international acclaim and in the same year won the Glen Schaeffer Prize in Modern Letters – Australasia’s most lucrative literary award.

Since then Chidgey has written a third novel, The Transformation, a number of short stories and as a fluent German speaker has been translating German children’s books into English. The Transformation was a book of the year in both the LA Times and New York Times Reviews of Books.

She has also held a Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship, Otago University’s Burns Fellowship and the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship in Menton. Most recently she returned from a six month residency in Cork, Ireland.

Dr Sarah Shieff, senior lecturer in the University’s English Department says Chidgey is an outstanding voice in contemporary fiction. “This residency is a partnership between the university and Creative New Zealand and it’s about enabling our finest writers to produce exciting new work. We’re delighted Catherine will be with us next year.”

Chidgey be working on her fourth novel during her residency. “I’m not exactly sure what it’ll be about yet, I’ve been mulling over a number of different ideas. I like working in an academic environment, I find it stimulating. It’s interesting, the cross pollinations that can go on between colleagues and their different areas of expertise. And I like getting outside the house to write, because writing is such a solitary process and you can go a bit crazy on your own.”

Chidgey’s recent work has included a one person play on the life of painter Frances Hodgkins which will be performed with the Southern Sinfonia early next year, and a short story appears in a new anthology called Second Violins where 15 writers were given the first paragraph of an unfinished work by Katherine Mansfield and asked to write their own story.

Dr Shieff says Chidgey is a great role-model and inspiration for other young writers. “Her work for the New Zealand Book Council’s Writers in Schools programme shows she's committed to education, to teaching others how to be clear thinkers and good writers. This is our core business at university too.”

Chidgey has already moved to Hamilton and takes up the residency in January.


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