2021 Awards

JANN MEDLICOTT ACORN PRIZE FOR FICTION

  • book

    Bug Week & Other Stories

    Published by: Victoria University Press

    Airini Beautrais

    Airini Beautrais

    There’s nowhere to hide with a short story. It must say a lot by saying very little. With its spiky confidence and mordant humour, short story collection Bug Week is a knockout from start to finish. Casting a devastating and witty eye on humanity at its most fallible and wonky, this is a tightly wound and remarkably assured collection. Atmospheric and refined, these stories evoke a strong sense of quiet unease, slow burning rage and the absurdly comic. Guest international co-judge Tommy Orange said, “I was consistently surprised by sentences, the beauty and singular language. If the book were a bug it would be a big one, with teeth and venom, with wings and a surprising heart, possibly several, beating on every page with life."

BOOKSELLERS AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND AWARD FOR ILLUSTRATED NON-FICTION

  • book

    Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine

    Published by: Godwit, Penguin Random House

    Monique Fiso

    Monique Fiso

    The recipes in Monique Fiso’s first, extraordinary book occupy fewer than half of its pages. The rest is a tour de force of Māori knowledge, written from a Māori perspective. For many of us this will be our introduction to the indigenous cuisine of our own land, and its ingredients, practice, culture, history and knowledge. Fiso’s text is hard-won, inspiring and utterly original in scope; the book is also beautifully designed and photographed. The judges were all drawn to it, coming back to it again and again; finding a careful, kind and generous work which never lectured, but took them on a journey and left them hungry for more.

GENERAL NON-FICTION AWARD

  • book

    The Dark is Light Enough: Ralph Hotere A Biographical Portrait

    Published by: Penguin, Penguin Random House

    Vincent O’Sullivan

    Vincent O’Sullivan

    When Ralph Hotere asked his old friend to write his biography, Vincent O’Sullivan hesitated. As a Pākehā, and an outsider to the art world, was he the right person for the job? Hotere saw no problem. This is a sensitive, detailed portrait of one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important modern artists, shaped around the four pou of Hotere’s identity: his Māoritanga, faith, whenua, and whānau. O'Sullivan displays masterly skill in the layering of information, observation and anecdote. He gives us a deep understanding of the forces and passions that drove one of New Zealand's greatest artists. The judges commended Vincent O’Sullivan for an extraordinary achievement in biography.

MŪRAU O TE TUHI - MĀORI LANGUAGE AWARD

  • book

    Mātāmua ko te Kupu!

    Published by: Kotahi Rau Pukapuka, Auckland University Press

    Tā Tīmoti Kāretu

    Tā Tīmoti Kāretu

    He kupu Hautoa mō Mātāmua ko te Kupu!

    Mātāmua ko te kupu! Koinei te kōrero a Tā Tākuta Tīmoti Kāretu, ka mutu, kāore i tua atu i a ia hei whakatauira i tēnei tauākī āna, i ōna hekenga werawera ki te reo i āna kaupapa huhua, mai, mai. Ko tana mahi hoki tērā mō te reo i ngā mahi a Tānerore, e tātai mai ana i roto i tana pukapuka nei, āna kitenga, ōna mōhiotanga, huri noa i tana takahi i roto i tērā ao hei kaihaka, hei kaitito, hei kaiako, hei kaiwhakawā, anō hoki. Tō tātou māri hoki kua kōpakina ōna whakaaro ki āna anō kupu ki te reo, i roto hoki i te wana, me te kupu horipū.

    Lyric is paramount! This is the axiom of Tā Tīmoti Kāretu, and there is no other than he who best personifies this statement in all his labours for the Māori language over countless years. His efforts for te reo in traditional Māori performing arts are also recounted in this book, his views and knowledge informed by his journey in that realm as a performer, a composer, a tutor and a judge. We are fortunate that his reflections are encapsulated in his own words in the Māori language with such passion and candour.

MARY AND PETER BIGGS AWARD FOR POETRY

  • book

    The Savage Coloniser Book

    Published by: Victoria University Press

    Tusiata Avia

    Tusiata Avia

    Tusiata Avia’s The Savage Coloniser Book is an enthralling performance, from Pati Solomona Tyrell’s striking dried-blood and plaster-masked cover, to the titles, to the spell-binding poems within. The violence of shared and fractured histories surfaces throughout the collection like liquefaction, unsettling, displacing, disrupting. In a year of outstanding poetry publications that respond to Covid, Black Lives Matter, the Christchurch Massacre, and ongoing violence against women, Avia expresses the outrage shared by many, while maintaining faith that love helps the healing process. This is a book bursting with alofa, profound pantoums, profanity and FafSwaggering stances, garrulously funny, bleakly satirical, magnificent.

MitoQ Best First Book Awards

  • book

    Victory Park

    Published by: Mākaro Press

    Rachel Kerr

    Rachel Kerr

    Five debut novels made the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction 2021 longlist, and the judges were particularly impressed by the big-hearted social realism of Victory Park, which follows the quiet heroics of a widowed solo mother of squeezed means. Sensitively examining the emotional and mental labour of being careful with money and the blind spots people have when they don’t need to worry about it, this quietly powerful novel is about privilege, community, compassion and care.

Judith Binney Prize for Illustrated Non-Fiction

  • book

    Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine

    Published by: Godwit, Penguin Random House

    Monique Fiso

    Monique Fiso

    Hiakai is an astounding first book. Monique Fiso shares her personal journey as a chef alongside her journey into the knowledge of her tūpuna/ancestors. Hiakai weaves understanding of our unique environment, hunting, foraging, cooking, eating and preserving into an expansive but very accessible offering. Fiso does not shy away from unusual ingredients and this makes it all the more fascinating. The images are beautiful and combined with inspiring text, they ensure this book will be a favourite for many years to come.

E.H. McCormick Prize for General Non-Fiction

  • book

    Specimen: Personal Essays

    Published by: Victoria University Press

    Madison Hamill

    Madison Hamill

    'Think of it this way. You're a horse but you live in the Namib Desert and all your friends are oryx. You think of yourself as a deformed oryx. What else could you be? You live in a habitat that doesn't accommodate horses'. In this compulsively readable first book, Madison Hamill observes her own difference with an outsider’s detached gaze, and the ordinary people around her with tender curiosity. This is a work of a luminous new talent in New Zealand life writing.

Jessie Mackay Prize for Poetry

  • book

    I Am a Human Being

    Published by: Compound Press

    Jackson Nieuwland

    Jackson Nieuwland’s I Am a Human Being asserts a Whitmanesque ecstasy of holistic oneness with the world. The poems’ insistent ‘I am’ refrain merges selfie and panoramic view, close-up and long shot in a whirl of words. Nieuwland’s dramatic monologues assail the reader with absurd, appealing, poignant, and humorous scenarios that are gleefully illogical, grandiose, deflating, and bulging with insight. The writing frequently overspills its lyrical open form and flows into newly imagined dimensions. It’s fun, fast, sometimes fragile, and full-on.

About the MitoQ Best First Book Awards

The Hubert Church Prize for Fiction was awarded from 1945 by PEN NZ (later the New Zealand Society of Authors), and named for the poet, novelist and critic who died in 1932.

The Jessie Mackay Prize for Poetry was awarded from 1940 by PEN NZ and named for the first locally born poet to achieve national prominence.

The Judith Binney Prize for Illustrated Non-Fiction is named for the late historian Dame Judith Binney, whose several ground-breaking books demonstrated her lifelong commitment to researching and writing about the history of New Zealand.

The E H McCormick Prize for General Non-Fiction is named for the late Eric McCormick, the eminent historian and biographer of Frances Hodgkins.