The winner of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2020 has been announced. Debut novelist, Becky Manawatu, received the Jann Medicott Acorn Prize for NZ $ 55,000 ($ A51,700) for Fiction, New Zealand’s richest literary prize, and the Hubert Church Prize for the best first fiction book for Auē (Mākaro Press).
The judges said Manawatu’s debut – the story of Arama’s orphans, which was kept in the Kaikōura countryside with relatives, and his brother Taukiri, a young man who fought alone in the big smoke – had a ‘unique New Zealand voice’ and ‘thrifty and often beautiful language ‘.
“There is violence, sadness and defilement in this book, but also overflowing humor, extraordinary insights into the minds of children and young men, extraordinary forgiveness and massive sufusion of love,” the judges said.
Musician and writer Shayne Carter also took home two awards, both the general nonfiction award of NZ $ 10,000 (A $ 9,400) and the E H McCormick Prize for the first best public nonfiction work, for his memoirs. The Dead I Know (Victoria University Press).
Two other award categories were also announced, with each category winner also receiving NZ $ 10,000. The category winners are:
- How to live (Helen Rickerby, Auckland University Press)
- Tautohetohe Protest: Objects of resistance, perseverance and rejection (edited by Stephanie Gordon, Matariki Williams & Puawai Cairns, Te Papa Press)
The Best Book First Award in the poetry and illustrated nonfiction categories was also presented. The winners of the first book prize are:
- Coward (Jane Arthur, Victoria University Press)
- We Are Here: An Aotearoa atlas (Chris McDowall & Tim Denee, Massey University Press)
In addition to receiving a NZ $ 2500 prize money (A $ 2350), each Best First Book Award winner receives a 12-month membership subscription for the New Zealand Writers Society.
Winner in 2020, chosen from Short list was announced in March, announced during a virtual ceremony on the night of Tuesday, May 12, which was broadcast live on the YouTube Awards channel and Facebook page.
Paula Morris, trustee of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, who organized the award said: ‘This is a very competitive year, with an incredible variety of books, which reflect the creativity and passion of our local publishing. It was also a surprise year, with two debut writers bringing home big prizes. ‘
To find out more about awards, judges and winning books, visit NZ Book Awards website.