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Local Literary Philanthropist Named

The anonymous donor who has sponsored the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards since 2016 has been named. The $55,000 prize, adjusted annually for inflation, is one of the world’s richest literary awards.

Jann Medlicott

Long-time Acorn supporter and retired Bay of Plenty radiologist Jann Medlicott, who also sponsors the Jann Medlicott Creative Art Award through the Acorn Foundation and Creative Bay of Plenty, has come forward after treatment for a recent recurrence of pelvic cancer. “I had been considering whether to make myself known, but the cancer diagnosis was a wake-up call and a reminder that we’re all on a continuum between being and not being, and that I’d better get a move on.”

Medlicott retired in 2011 after being involved in private radiology practice in the Bay of Plenty since 1988, including as a partner in MEDEX radiology. She was an avid reader from her early childhood in Kohi, rural Taranaki, and read books between shifts as a barmaid and as a nurse aid while completing her medical training at the University of Otago.

Medlicott had a collection of nearly 1000 books by the time she moved to England for work, following the completion of her medical training, and her extensive travel has led to a true appreciation for New Zealand. “I have an absolute commitment to where I am from, that’s why I want to support our writers. I can unequivocally say that our literature is as good as any in the world. We need to look at new and innovative ways to support our writers.”

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The newly named Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction will be presented at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards on 12 May. 10 longlisted books were named in January, and the four finalists will be announced on 4 March. Tauranga bookseller Chris Baskett from Books A Plenty is one of the three New Zealand-based judges for the Fiction prize, along with author, journalist and reviewer Mark Broatch, and short story and non-fiction writer Nic Low.

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