2023 Ockhams Longlist unveiled

Forty-four fabulous titles - from a record 191 entries - have been longlisted for the 2023 edition of the Royal Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. The titles will be whittled down to a 'Super 16' shortlist on Wednesday 8 March, then the champs fed, feted and garlanded at the big dance on Wednesday 17 May.

Highly personal memoir, probing political treatise and gut-punching poetry collections sit alongside trailblazing fiction and books exploring our whenua, moana, artists and entertainers in the longlists for the 2023 Royal Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Today’s longlist announcement is the largest and widest ranging in the recent history of the awards, with a record number of 44 poetry, prose, general and illustrated non-fiction titles.

The increase from 40 longlisted titles in previous years is due to the General Non-Fiction judges accepting an invitation from the New Zealand Book Awards Trust Te Ohu Tiaki i Te Rau Hiringa to select up to 14 titles, rather than the standard 10 in their category. The General Non-Fiction shortlist will still be four, in line with the other categories.

Record entries

Trust chair Nicola Legat says that the discretionary increase reflects the volume of submissions for the General Non-Fiction award, the number and range of which well exceeds the other three categories.

“This gives the judges more opportunity to honour more books, and more types of books. This category longlist certainly reflects the terrific depth and breadth of non-fiction publishing in New Zealand and is a credit to its authors and publishers.”

There were 191 award entries this year – more than ever before, and an increase of 20 percent compared to 2022. Almost a third (14) of longlistees are first-time authors – an increase from 10 debutants on the 40-strong list last year. With 19 publishers represented across all categories, the longlist’s wide distribution is a reflection of Aotearoa’s vibrant literary industry.

“The New Zealand Book Awards Trust was thrilled by the record number of entries to the awards this year. It’s very heartening to see the longlist shared among so many publishing houses, both big and small,” says Nicola Legat. “When you consider that many of these books were produced and went to print during the stressful Covid restrictions of late 2021, it’s even more of an achievement. We congratulate all concerned.”

"The New Zealand Book Awards Trust was thrilled by the record number of entries to the awards this year. When you consider that many of these books were produced and went to print during the stressful Covid restrictions of late-2021, it’s even more of an achievement..."

Ockham Book Awards Boudicca, Nicola Legat

Drum roll please. The 2023 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlistees are:
*represents debut authors.

Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction

πŸ“š Better the Blood by Michael Bennett (Simon & Schuster).
πŸ“š Chevalier & Gawayn: The Ballad of the Dreamer by Phillip Mann (Quentin Wilson Publishing)
πŸ“š Down from Upland by Murdoch Stephens (Lawrence & Gibson)
πŸ“š Home Theatre by Anthony Lapwood (Te Herenga Waka University Press)*
πŸ“š How to Loiter in a Turf War by Coco Solid (Penguin, Penguin Random House)*
πŸ“š Kāwai: For Such a Time as This by Monty Soutar (Bateman Books)
πŸ“š Mary’s Boy, Jean-Jacques and other stories by Vincent O’Sullivan (Te Herenga Waka University Press)
πŸ“š Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant by Cristina Sanders (The Cuba Press)
πŸ“š The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press)
πŸ“š The Fish by Lloyd Jones (Penguin, Penguin Random House)

Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry

πŸ“š Always Italicise: How to Write While Colonised by Alice Te Punga Somerville (Auckland University Press)
πŸ“š Echidna by Essa May Ranapiri (Te Herenga Waka University Press)
πŸ“š Meat Lovers by Rebecca Hawkes (Auckland University Press)*
πŸ“š Night School by Michael Steven (Otago University Press)
πŸ“š People Person by Joanna Cho (Te Herenga Waka University Press)*
πŸ“š Sedition by Anahera Maire Gildea (Taraheke | Bush Lawyer)*
πŸ“š Super Model Minority by Chris Tse (Auckland University Press)
πŸ“š Surrender by Michaela Keeble (Taraheke | Bush Lawyer)*
πŸ“š The Pistils by Janet Charman (Otago University Press)
πŸ“š We’re All Made of Lightning by Khadro Mohamed (We Are Babies Press, Tender Press)*

Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction

πŸ“š I am Autistic by Chanelle Moriah (Allen & Unwin)*
πŸ“š Jumping Sundays: The Rise and Fall of the Counterculture in Aotearoa New Zealand by Nick Bollinger (Auckland University Press)
πŸ“š Kai: Food Stories and Recipes from my Family Table by Christall Lowe (Bateman Books)*
πŸ“š Nature Boy: The Photography of Olaf Petersen edited by Catherine Hammond and Shaun Higgins (Auckland University Press)
πŸ“š Paradise Camp by Yuki Kihara, edited by Natalie King (Thames & Hudson Australia)
πŸ“š Robin White: Something is Happening Here edited by Sarah Farrar, Jill Trevelyan and Nina Tonga (Te Papa Press and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki)
πŸ“š Secrets of the Sea: The Story of New Zealand’s Native Sea Creatures by Robert Vennell (HarperCollins)
πŸ“š Tāngata Ngāi Tahu | People of Ngāi Tahu Volume Two edited by Helen Brown and Michael J Stevens (Te RΕ«nanga o Ngāi Tahu and Bridget Williams Books)
πŸ“š Te Motunui Epa by Rachel Buchanan (Bridget Williams Books)
πŸ“š Toi TΕ« Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art editedby Nigel Borell (Penguin Random House New Zealand in association with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki)

General Non-Fiction Award

πŸ“š A Fire in the Belly of Hineāmaru: A Collection of Narratives about Te Tai Tokerau TΕ«puna by Melinda Webber and Te Kapua O’Connor (Auckland University Press)
πŸ“š A History of New Zealand in 100 Objects by Jock Phillips (Penguin, Penguin Random House)
πŸ“š Democracy in Aotearoa New Zealand: A Survival Guide by Geoffrey Palmer and Gwen Palmer Steeds (Te Herenga Waka University Press)
πŸ“š Downfall: The Destruction of Charles Mackay by Paul Diamond (Massey University Press)
πŸ“š Empire City: Wellington Becomes the Capital of New Zealandby John E Martin (Te Herenga Waka University Press)
πŸ“š Every Sign of Life: On Family Ground by Nicholas Lyon Gresson (Quentin Wilson Publishing)
πŸ“š Gaylene’s Take: Her Life in New Zealand Film by Gaylene Preston (Te Herenga Waka University Press)*
πŸ“š Grand: Becoming my Mother’s Daughter by Noelle McCarthy (Penguin, Penguin Random House)*
πŸ“š Lāuga: Understanding Samoan Oratory by Sadat Muaiava (Te Papa Press)*
πŸ“š So Far, For Now: On Journeys, Widowhood and Stories that are Never Over by Fiona Kidman (Vintage, Penguin Random House)
πŸ“š The English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi by Ned Fletcher (Bridget Williams Books)*
πŸ“š The Road to Gondwana: In Search of the Lost Supercontinent by Bill Morris (Exisle Publishing)*
πŸ“š Thief, Convict, Pirate, Wife: The Many Histories of Charlotte Badger by Jennifer Ashton (Auckland University Press)
πŸ“š You Probably Think This Song is About You by Kate Camp (Te Herenga Waka University Press)

Super 16 shortlist named in March

The 2023 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist of 16 titles in the four categories will be announced on Wednesday 8 March. And then, to misquote and mangle The Highlander, there can only be one (well actually four, the winners in each category).

The official – and always erudite – Ockham New Zealand Book Awards website has all the guff you need to know about the longlisted titles. And the champs will be crowned on Wednesday 17 May. Save the date.