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Shortlist chosen for Prize in Modern Letters

MEDIA RELEASE 17 October 2003
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Shortlist chosen for Prize in Modern Letters

Thirty-nine entries for the prestigious $60,000 Prize in Modern Letters have been short listed to four authors – two novelists and two poets.

The short list is:

William Brandt Alpha Male (1999), The Book of the Film of the Story of my Life (2002). Victoria University Press.
Kate Camp Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars (1998), Realia (2001). Victoria University Press.
Glenn Colquhoun The Art of Walking Upright (1999), Playing God (2002).
Steele Roberts Ltd.
Geoff Cush Son of France (2002). Random House.

Professor Bill Manhire, Director of the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) at Victoria University, says the finalists’ work now goes forward to be read by a panel of American jurors, convened by Eric Olsen, Director of the IIML at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

“It’s a great relief to me that the final decision is out of our hands,” said Professor Manhire. “The judges are going to have a very hard time reaching a decision. The shortlisting group managed to get the 39 entries down to nine or ten, but then spent several more weeks before settling on the final four.”

He said that he would not dare predict the eventual winner.

“The only thing I feel quite sure of is that contemporary New Zealand writing is in very good health.”

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony in Wellington during Writers and Readers Week at the International Arts Festival in March 2004.

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Glenn Schaeffer, the literary activist who founded the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria, funds the Prize in Modern Letters.

The inaugural Prize was awarded to novelist Catherine Chidgey in March 2002. Her third novel, The Transformation, will be published later this year by Victoria University Press.

The Institute also plays a key role in another major literary appointment - the Te Mata Estate New Zealand Poet Laureate – and is responsible for co-ordinating the biennial selection and management of the appointment. In February 2003, Brian Turner was named Poet Laureate for a period of two years.


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