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Announcing the Winner of the 2021 Michael Gifkins Prize

Tom Baragwanath has been awarded the 2021 Michael Gifkins Prize for his crime novel Paper Cage. Baragwanath wins a publishing contract with Text and a NZ$10,000 advance against royalties.

Baragwanath accepted the award during an online event hosted by Text Publishing and the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc. The 2020 prize-winning novel, A Good Winter by Gigi Fenster, was also launched at the event.

Tom Baragwanath’s Paper Cage is a gripping literary thriller about abducted children, family loyalty and a community in crisis – and a woman who will have to make hard choices in her quest to save a child she loves. Paper Cage will be published by Text in September 2022.

The New Zealand Society of Authors President Mandy Hager said when announcing the award: ‘We are delighted to partner with Text Publishing for this prize, and what a great opportunity it presents for an emerging New Zealand writer.’

Tom Baragwanath completed Paper Cage during his Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Kent in 2020. He is originally from Masterton, New Zealand and is currently living in Paris. His short fiction has appeared in Headland, Amarillo Bay, Takahē, the Menteur and elsewhere. On winning the prize, he said: ‘I wish I could be with you in person to express just how thrilling this is as a novice writer. I never had the chance to meet Michael, but I understand him to have been a kind and generous teacher and friend. Thank you very much to Ann Hatherly, André Gifkins and the wider Gifkins whānau for your generosity.’

Baragwanath was shortlisted by Text Publishing alongside Adrienne Jansen and Sue McCauley from an impressive longlist of twelve manuscripts. The longlist was selected by judges Dr Paula Morris and Dr Vanda Symon.

‘We are really providing writers with an extra avenue to market,’ said Text’s Publisher, Michael Heyward. ‘Manuscript prizes are exciting and unexpected, and all sorts of wonderful things can come out of them.’

‘We hope the Michael Gifkins Prize can honour Michael’s memory by uncovering the work of talented writers wherever they are, at whatever stage they are in their career, and by using that spotlight to give them a leg up in furthering their writing and creating opportunities for them. It is a privilege and an honour to stay in touch with his family through this award.’

Gigi Fenster’s A Good Winter, the winner of the 2020 prize, was celebrated at the same event. A Good Winter, an enthralling psychological thriller and a dark and complex portrait of a troubled mind, was published on September 14th.

Submissions to the 2022 prize will close at midnight NZST on Thursday 14 October 2021. The prize will be administered by the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc. Entry forms and terms and conditions can be found here.

The Gifkins Prize is made possible by a generous financial commitment from the Gifkins family and from Text Publishing. It is administered by the NZ Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc. The previous winners of the Gifkins Prize are Ruby Porter (2018) and Tom Remiger (2019).

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