New to Grey Lynn - The Feynman

Confrontational new novel takes top prize at 2018 Ockhams

Wellington writer Pip Adam nabs the richest literary prize at the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards with a novel judges say 'will bring readers back from the dead', while Ockham Residential confirms its sponsorship commitment to the Awards for a further five years.

Pip Adam has won the 2018 $52,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize in the country’s premier book awards. She received the honour for her novel The New Animals (Victoria University Press) at the glittering Ockham New Zealand Book Awards ceremony, which also marked the Awards’ 50th anniversary, held in Auckland’s Aotea Centre tonight.

The New Animals, which parodies the Auckland fashion scene, was praised by the category judges as a confrontational, revelatory novel that holds a mirror up to contemporary New Zealand culture.

They said: “The New Animals handles a large ensemble of unrooted characters with skill. It’s stylistically raw and reveals a good deal in a modest way. The New Animals is so vivid in imagery and imagination that the judges haven’t stopped thinking about it since. In this category in 2018 it’s the book with the most blood on the page. It will give you an electric shock.”

"Riveting" memoir wins non-fiction

Listener writer Diana Wichtel won the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction for her riveting memoir Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father (Awa Press).

“The toughest task of any book, whatever the form, is to make a sentence so good that you just have to read the next one, and the next one, and then wish it could just about go on forever. So it is with Driving to Treblinka,” said the judges. 

“Wichtel’s curiosity, alternately upsetting and uplifting, turns invisibly into a kind of mission. At its heart this is a family story, but one which cannot but shine a light on the vestiges of anti-Semitism that linger in Europe today. It is not just a beautifully written book, but an important book, too.”

“The toughest task of any book is to make a sentence so good that you just have to read the next one, and the next one, and then wish it could just about go on forever. So it is with Driving to Treblinka...”

Smither wins third poetry title

Elizabeth Smither OBE won the Poetry category – an honour bestowed on her twice before – with her collection Night Horse (Auckland University Press).

“The 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Poetry Award is for a book by an esteemed and celebrated poet who contributes greatly to the New Zealand writing community. The poems in Night Horse are gentle, uplifting, tender, humorous, well-crafted and luminous,” said the Poetry category judges.

Tuai: A traveller in two worlds

Esteemed academics Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins won the Illustrated Non-Fiction category for their work Tuai: A traveller in two worlds (Bridget Williams Books).

“Tuai is empathetically written, providing the reader a window into a contested time of meeting, conversion and enterprise. The text and illustrations work in concert, presenting a rounded and rich experience for the reader, enhancing the breadth and depth of the research explored within. Key moments are presented so richly that they envelop and captivate the imagination. The care the authors have given these histories, acknowledging the autonomy that mātauranga Māori has in wider Aotearoa historical narratives, is striking, and we need more of it,” remarked the judges.

Ockham signs on for five more years

To add a further celebratory note, Ockham Residential confirmed its sponsorship commitment to the Awards for a further five years.

“This year the New Zealand Book Awards have reached the golden age of fifty. However they have only been the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for the last three years, which isn’t long enough in our book!” says Mark Todd, captain and co-founder of Ockham Residential. “We are delighted to announce a new five-year sponsorship deal with the awards. With public discourse in disarray we need our writers more than ever.”

New Zealand Book Awards Trust chair, Nicola Legat, says Ockham’s commitment is a terrific boon for the Awards. “We are enormously grateful to Ockham for their generous ongoing commitment. What a terrific way to celebrate the Awards’ 50th anniversary - the country’s premier literary honours are in such good heart.”

Four Best First Book Awards were also presented at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

📚 The Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction: Baby by Annaleese Jochems (Victoria University Press).
📚 The E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for General Non-Fiction: Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press).
📚 The Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry: Fully Clothed and So Forgetful by Hannah Mettner (Victoria University Press).
📚 The Judith Binney Best First Book Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction: Caves: Exploring New Zealand’s Subterranean Wilderness by Marcus Thomas and Neil Silverwood (Whio Publishing).