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2006 Prize in Modern Letters shortlist

MEDIA RELEASE

1 November 2005


2006 Prize in Modern Letters shortlist

The 2006 Prize in Modern Letters shortlist was announced today, giving six New Zealand writers the chance to win the word’s largest literary prize for an emerging writer.

Coordinated by the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), based at Victoria University, this is the third time that the Prize, worth $65,000, will have been awarded.

Six shortlisted writers have made the cut for the 2006 prize, which was decided by Professor Bill Manhire (convenor), broadcaster Elizabeth Alley, Dominion Post books editor Guy Somerset, and novelist and IIML lecturer, Damien Wilkins.

The shortlisted writers are:

Tusiata Avia Wild Dogs under My Skirt (2004)
William Brandt Alpha Male (1999); The Book of the Film of the Story of My Life (2002)
Kate Camp Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars (1998); Realia (2001)
Jo Randerson The Spit Children (2000); The Keys to Hell (2004)
Carl Shuker The Method Actors (2005)
Louise Wareham Since You Ask (2004)

- Kate Camp and Tusiata Avia are both poets, while the remaining four shortlistees are fiction writers.

- Jo Randerson is shortlisted for her two collections of short fiction, but is also well known for her work in the theatre.

- Three writers – Tusiata Avia, Carl Shuker, and Louise Wareham – have made the shortlist on the basis of one published book only.

- Half of the shortlisted writers have already been published outside New Zealand. The novels by Louise Wareham and Carl Shuker both come from small American literary publishers, while William Brandt’s The Book of the Film of the Story of My Life has been published in the UK and the USA as well as in New Zealand.

- Two of the shortlisted finalists – William Brandt and Kate Camp – were also finalists in 2004.

Professor Manhire, Director of the IIML, said that the finalists’ books will now go forward to be read by a panel of American jurors.

“The jurors are going to have to work quite hard,” says Professor Manhire.

“There are six authors here, and they are very, very different from one another. One of the really healthy things about the shortlist, and about contemporary New Zealand writing in general, is the range of things being attempted.”

The winner will be announced at a special session of Writers and Readers Week at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in March 2006.

Earlier winners of the Prize in Modern Letters are novelist Catherine Chidgey (2002) and poet Glenn Colquhoun (2004). Glenn Schaeffer, the American literary activist who founded the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria in 2001, personally funds the $65,000 award.

For further information, please contact Elizabeth Alley on 04 970 8341. Damien Wilkins is also available for comment. Please contact Nancy Linton to arrange.

ENDS

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