Word by word, inch by inch, Gigi Fenster immerses us in the increasingly unsettling psyche of her narrator. Olga lends a hand with her friend’s daughter, who has recently given birth, but the helpful old woman gradually takes on a more sinister role. It is an unnerving and absorbing reading experience as the darkness gradually closes in. Fenster creates an unforgettable voice, which at first seems so light and benign as — impeccably paced — the psychological tumult builds to a truly mesmerising crescendo.
JANN MEDLICOTT ACORN PRIZE FOR FICTION
A Good Winter
Dazzlingly intelligent and ambitious in scope, Entanglement spans decades and continents, explores the essence of time and delves into topics as complex as quantum physics. But at the heart of Bryan Walpert’s novel is the human psyche and all its intricacies. A writer plagued by two tragedies in his past reflects on where it all went wrong, and his desperation leads him back to Baltimore in 1977. A novel unafraid to ask difficult questions, and a novelist unwilling to patronise his readers.
Greta & Valdin
From the very first page, this novel has readers laughing out loud at the daily trials of these two Māori-Russian-Catalonian siblings. The titular characters navigate Auckland while dealing with heartbreak, OCD, family secrets, the costs of living, Tinder, public transport and more, and they do it all with massive amounts of heart. Greta & Valdin is gloriously queer, hilarious and relatable. Rebecca K Reilly's debut novel is a modern classic.
Ten years ago, Whiti Hereaka decided to begin the task of rescuing Kurangaituku, the birdwoman ogress from the Māori myth, Hatupatu and the Bird-Woman. In this extraordinary and richly imagined novel, Hereaka gives voice and form to Kurangaituku, allowing her to tell us not only her side of the story but also everything she knows about the newly made Māori world and after-life. Told in a way that embraces Māori oral traditions, Kurangaituku is poetic, intense, clever, and sexy as hell.
BOOKSELLERS AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND AWARD FOR ILLUSTRATED NON-FICTION
Dressed: Fashionable Dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840 to 1910
This beautiful and beguiling book will seduce a wide audience with its stunning images and informative text, focusing on our ancestors’ lives through the lens of their clothing. Elegantly designed and sumptuously presented, it covers the diversity of sartorial experience in 19th Century Aotearoa as it addresses simple questions such as: Who made this garment? Who wore it, and when? A valuable addition to our nation’s story, it will have wide cultural and educational reach, and is an outstanding example of illustrated non-fiction publishing.
NUKU: Stories of 100 Indigenous Women
The strikingly successful outcome of an ambitious project to showcase indigenous women going about their daily lives, doing both ordinary and extraordinary things. The 100 varied examples of talent and triumph are presented in a simple magazine-style format that is as accessible as it is effective. The author gracefully presents her subjects in their own words, stepping aside in the text but being wonderfully present through her tremendous portrait photography, which works seamlessly with the elegant, unpretentious typography in a beautifully cohesive package.
Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
A fresh and timely study that weaves multiple narratives across time and space into a highly readable story, revealing the deep histories and continuous remaking of selected landscapes across Tāmaki Makaurau. The clean presentation of both often startling historic images and contemporary photography, and the skilfully written text informed by serious scholarship, fill some of the gaps in the stories of Auckland. The inviting format and careful, uncluttered design will appeal to a wide audience. An impressive first book.
The Architect and the Artists: Hackshaw, McCahon, Dibble
A thorough and beautifully produced triangulation of creative practice that shows the value of collaboration in the arts, as evidenced in the collective projects of James Hackshaw, Colin McCahon and Paul Dibble. Archival material (including personal correspondence and sketches), informative and reflective text, and powerfully evocative photography are delivered cohesively through clean and lively design and typography. The author’s clear labour of love is reinforced by excellent external contributions, making for an enlightening and brilliant whole. Another impressive and assured first book.
GENERAL NON-FICTION AWARD
From the Centre: A Writer’s Life
On one level this is a personal memoir of love and of family — Patricia Grace writes of her husband, her children and her extended family, of being schooled and of teaching — but her life is also played out in the context of social history, the time when many Māori began to move from rural to urban environments; Grace is always aware that she lives within a much larger community. Hers is a rare literary memoir, free of egotism.
The Alarmist: Fifty Years Measuring Climate Change
In this wide-ranging autobiography, Dave Lowe follows New Zealand’s critical role in charting carbon emissions from the 1970s onwards. Writing of the methodical collection of critical data allows Lowe to convey major scientific concepts to the general reader in a very accessible way. The Alarmist has a rich texture of family and a clear awareness that members of the scientific community are not always in harmony. It is enlightening as well as very readable.
The Mirror Book
A writer of novels and short fiction turns to non-fiction with a memoir par excellence. In this book of trauma, recovery and self-discovery, the prose is exquisitely precise in its navigation of the complexity of the author’s family dynamics and its interrogation of how it has shaped the construction of her identity and influenced her writing. The Mirror Book combines the personal and the literary with the sociological. It has been — and deserves to be — widely read.
Voices from the New Zealand Wars | He Reo nō ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa
An admirable work of historical scholarship drawing on many sources, Māori and Pākehā. Vincent O'Malley's craft lies in unpacking those sources in an eloquent and incisive way, and he helps readers to think critically as he presents balanced arguments about contested battles and other conflicts. In the process, he weaves a coherent history of the New Zealand Wars. Essential reading for New Zealanders, with the bonus of excellent book production by the publishers.
MARY AND PETER BIGGS AWARD FOR POETRY
In Rangikura, Tayi Tibble further enhances her deserved reputation as a poet who writes with vibrant energy and talent. She has vision, and here sets out to combine vernacular with refined poetics, giving a voice to urban Māori. The result is dense and rich with life and language. These poems pay tribute to Millennial culture and use the power of humour, sexuality and friendship to create a collection that encapsulates this generation of Aotearoa.
Sleeping with Stones
Through a kind of verse novel, Serie Barford builds the story of a person, a loss and a life that continues on despite it all. Sleeping with Stones is a skillfully structured collection in which each poem accumulates and moves through time. Barford’s gift is her ability to use simple eloquence to write about complex matters. This collection does what poetry should do: give words to the things for which there are no words.
The Sea Walks into a Wall
An up-to-the-minute contemporary collection that tests the very limits of what poetry can do. With her playful intellect and supreme confidence, Anne Kennedy creates poems that are consistently engaged with issues of the anthropocene, beneath which a constant, powerful tide flows and pulls. Worldly, and deeply in the world, The Sea Walks into a Wall bears witness to the grit and gravity of contemporary life.
Each poem in Tumble is a glimpse into a different world, and no two poems inhabit the same reality. Drawing from lines of art, history, contemporary journalism and fellow poets, the collection confidently shifts perspectives and registers, points of view and tone, while being held together by Joanna Preston’s light touch. Her pristine imagery and fine ear for rhythm and beat means every poem — and the book itself — is a celebration of poetry.