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.
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.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.