2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards judges announced

The 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards will be judged by 12 eminent academics, writers, journalist, commentators, former publishers and booksellers from around New Zealand; a three-fold increase on the number of judges in previous years which reflects the Awards’ new judging structure.

Each of the Awards’ four categories – Fiction, Poetry, General Non-Fiction and Illustrated Non-Fiction – and the awards for Best First Book  in those categories, will be judged by a panel of three judges, all specialists in their fields. A Maori language adviser will judge the Maori Language Award.

The judges will announce their longlist finalists on November 25, 2015, and their shortlist on March 8, 2016.

New Zealand Book Awards Trust chairwoman, Nicola Legat, says the judges selected for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are second-to-none.

“Authors and publishers can expect to receive the rigour and respect from this year’s line-up that their books deserve. Rather than four judges reading 150 or more books, as has been the case previously, these specialists will read only the books in their category, allowing for a more detailed examination of the works,” she says.

Owen Marshall photo

Owen Marshall

The Fiction category, whose $50,000 prize is now known as The Acorn Foundation Literary Award, will be judged by distinguished writer Owen Marshall CNZM; Wellington bookseller and reviewer Tilly Lloyd, and former Director of the Auckland Writers Festival and Creative New Zealand senior literature adviser Jill Rawnsley.

The Poetry Prize will be judged by former Auckland University Press publisher Elizabeth Caffin MNZM; James K Baxter expert Dr Paul Millar, of the University of Canterbury, and poet and University of Auckland academic Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh.

The General Non-Fiction Prize will be judged by Metro Editor-At-Large Simon Wilson; Professor Lydia Wevers, literary historian, critic and director of the Stout Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, and Dr Jarrod Gilbert, a former Book Awards winner for Patched: A History of Gangs in New Zealand, of the University of Canterbury.

The Illustrated Non-Fiction Prize will be judged by former publisher Jane Connor, publisher of the magisterial The Trees of New Zealand, which won the Book of the Year award in 2012; Associate Professor Linda Tyler, Director of the Centre for Art Studies at The University of Auckland, and Leonie Hayden, the editor of Mana magazine.

“It’s always an honour to be invited to judge these prestigious and important awards but also a major commitment of time.” says Ms Legat. “So we are enormously grateful that these very busy and skilled people are happy to demonstrate their support for the awards by diving in to months of reading and debate. We very much look forward to their final longlist, shortlist and winner selections.”

The winners will be announced on May 10, 2016, at an event at the Auckland Writers Festival.

Entries to the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards can be made via http://booksellers.co.nz/awards/new-zealand-book-awards/submissions . Books published between June 1, 2014 and December 21, 2015 are eligible for entry.

The New Zealand Book Awards is enormously grateful to the generosity of its partners: Ockham Residential, The Acorn Foundation and enduring funder Creative New Zealand.

Three award-winning international authors at the Tauranga Arts Festival

An exciting line-up for the Literary Programme for this year’s Tauranga Arts Festival includes three award-winning international authors making their only New Zealand appearances at the festival.

Photo of Christina Lamb

Christina Lamb

Christina Lamb OBE has been covering Afghanistan for British newspapers for more than 25 years. Following on from her best-selling 2002 book, The Sewing Circles of Heart, Lamb has this year published Farewell Kabul: From Afghanistan to a More Dangerous World, a personal account of the longest war ever fought by the US, and one of the longest fought by the UK. How did a group of religious students and farmers defeat the might of NATO, with 48 countries and 140,000 troops on the ground? And what does instability in landlocked Afghanistan mean for the region and the world? Lamb appears twice on Saturday, October 24 and once on Sunday, October 25.

Photo of Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll

Melbourne novelist Steven Carroll last year co-won the Australian Prime Minister’s Award for Literature for A World of Other People which is set the London of 1941 and inspired by one of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets poems. Carroll is the author of nine novels, including The Time We Have Taken, which won both the Commonwealth Writers’ Regional Prize and the Miles Franklin Award, and Spirit of Progress. His novel about the 1960 West Indies cricket team tour of Australia, The Gift of Speed, is being reprinted in time for the festival. Carroll writes in longhand, 1000 words every day, usually in the shed at his home. He often listens to Beethoven while working. He appears once each on Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1.

Photo of Phil Jarratt

Phil Jarratt

Phil Jarratt rode his first wave aged 9 and published his first article about surfing in 1968, aged 17. Since then he has edited Tracks magazine and the Australia edition of Surfer’s Journal, been named among Australia’s 50 most influential surfers, worked for Quiksilver, and founded the Noosa Festival of Surfing, the world’s largest surf carnival. His books include That Summer at Boomerang (2014), the story of Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku’s visit to Australia on the eve of World War 1 and the best-selling Mr Sunset (surf legend Jeff Hakman) which was made into a film, while Bali: Heaven and Hell (2014) is a history of the island interwoven with personal memoir. Jarratt appears once on Saturday, October 24 and twice on Sunday, October 25. He will also introduce the free, outdoor screening of the 1972 surf movie classic Morning of the Earth at a Mount Maunganui reserve on October 24.

New Zealand authors in the line-up are Mandy Hager, Nicky Hager, Stephanie Johnson, Debra Daley, Tracey Barnett, Riley Elliott, Harry Ricketts, Damien Fenton, Bryan Gould and Joseph Romanos. Victoria University’s printer-in-residence Sydney Shep is leading a Zine Craft workshop on October 31 and speaking the next day. Moderators include Wallace Chapman, Toby Manhire, Stephen Stratford and Tony Wall. Full details of the programme, which for the first time includes day passes, are available at www.taurangafestival.co.nz.

Book review: Grey by E.L. James

Grey cover imageGrey by E.L. James, Arrow, ISBN 9781784753252, RRP $19.99

Grey is the latest instalment in the inexplicably mega-popular Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, and retells the original Fifty Shades of Grey book, this time from the perspective of Christian Grey himself. The fans were apparently clamouring for this novel but that doesn’t stop it from feeling like a particularly lazy way to continue to milk the brand.

Sadly the book itself has almost no redeeming features, the characters are unlikeable and cartoonish and the writing, including the much talked about sexy-times, is repetitive and bland.

Yes, the reader gets insight into the mind of Christian Grey but this particular reader wondered why we needed it. Mr Grey spends a lot of time telling us that he’s a dark and troubled person but the “shocking” formative moment that James presumably intended to explain his temperament turns out to be laughably formulaic.

There is far better written erotica available and fans should be clamouring for that.

I also talked about Grey on More FM Waikato.

19th Annual Red Cross Book Fair

19th Annual Red Cross Book Fair books wanted poster

New Zealand Red Cross is again holding their popular major fundraising event – now in its 19th year. In 2015 the fair will be held from Friday 4 September to Sunday 6 September at Te Rapa Racecourse in Hamilton.

Over three days tens of thousands of books, well sorted and categorised, are up for sale at incredibly low prices.

Don’t miss out on the $1 bargain room, where all items (including books, movies, music and puzzles) sell at $1 or less.

Bring the family and stock up on some fantastic reading, find great presents for friends and family, and celebrate 100 years of Red Cross in New Zealand.

Proceeds go to funding vital humanitarian work by the Red Cross here in New Zealand and overseas.

Vote for your favourite New Zealand children and young adults book

0048 BOK logo working 25Would you like to choose the winners in the 2015 New Zealand Children and Young Adults Book Awards?

Be part of the Children’s Choice voting and have your chance to vote for the New Zealand books you think are the best.

Children and teenagers across the country have been busy reading and reviewing their favourites amongst all the New Zealand books entered in the 2015 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Their votes created a list of 20 books they think are the best.

So get voting: we want to know what New Zealand kids think. Choose your favourite in the Top 5 in each category that’s relevant to your age group. (We have adult judges separately deciding on the overall winners, but we also want to know what kids think are the best books.)

Every kid who votes (you’ll need to be 18 years old or under) will be in the draw to win some books for yourself and for your school. On the second page we will ask you questions to help us contact you via your school if you win. If you are unsure about anything ask mum or dad or your teacher to help you.

Voting closes at 12 noon on Friday, 31 July.

So vote now and tell your friends to vote too. Just click here to vote!

Voting button