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NZSA Lilian Ida Smith Award 2020 – Recipient Announced As Safia Archer

The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc)
are delighted to announce the winner of the NZSA Lilian Ida Smith Award 2020 - writer Safia Archer.

With 78 entries for this award, the selection panel of Ivy Alvarez and Michelle Elvy had a tough time deciding on a winner. Safia Archer, will use the award to work on her memoire.

Safia Archer says: 'Thank you so much to the selection panel of the Lilian Ida Smith Award for gifting me the precious time needed to complete my memoire which captures my Pākehā ancestry from Reefton, a small mining town on New Zealand’s West Coast, my more recently explored Indo-Fijian heritage from Ba, a small town on Fiji's Viti Levu, and the complexities of being born to both.

The work includes moments that speak to race, religion, crime, abuse, and identity that have some real-time parallels to current events – especially our system’s relationship with Islam and minorities, and Pacific migrants in particular. I'm writing our story through a place of empathy and a lens of love but it's not always pretty and it’s definitely not white-washed, so I’m immensely grateful to the selection panel in encouraging me to complete my family’s story with this award and helping to widen the space for this kind of indigenous narrative to grow.'

Safia is completing her Masters at the International Institute of Modern Letters and works for the Pacific Cooperation Foundation which advocates for Pacific peoples both here in New Zealand and the wider Pacific region.

Selection panel convener Ivy Alvarez said that: :"Half Caste by Safia Archer is writing that blends emotion and craft with great fluency, with an extra dash of excitement through the writer attempting something new with the work. The writing stood up to multiple re-reads, yielding fresh revelations every time. This is impressive work by an emerging writer, and we are confident the Lilian Ida Smith Award will help boost Safia Archer up to the next level of their writing career. Michelle Elvy and I felt privileged to be able to read the work of writers from the breadth of Aotearoa. What richness we have! We received and read applications from short fiction writers, novelists, memoirists, non-fiction writers, playwrights and poets, children's writers, and artists."

The selection panel have awarded Honourable Mentions to three writer projects:

  • Lauren Roche for the Grave-Robber's Apprentice
  • Justin Warren for the Lewis Pass
  • Sally Franicevich for How to Get Fired

Candidates gaining an honourable mention each receive a complimentary one-year NZSA membership.

Past recipients of the Lilian Ida Smith award include Caroline Barron, Paula Harris, Sue Orr, Rachael King, Bill Manhire, Lauris Edmond, Owen Marshall, and Graeme Lay.

About the Award
The Lilian Ida Smith Award was initiated when Lilian Ida Smith, a music teacher of Wanganui who had a keen interest in the arts, left part of her legacy to the NZ Society of Authors to 'assist people aged 35yrs and over to embark upon or further a literary career'.
The Lilian Ida Smith Award provides the successful applicant with an award of $3,000 to assist them towards completion of a specific project.
The first award was made in 1986. The amount of the award is obtained by accumulating interest on the capital of the bequest. The last award was made in 2017. The award is only open to financial members of the NZ Society of Authors who are aged 35 years or over.
Lilian Ida Smith Award recipients
Read more about this Award

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