Book awards surprise on Dunedin poet's birthday

Lynley Edmeades
Lynley Edmeades
A Dunedin poet got a special birthday surprise today.

Lynley Edmeades has been longlisted for this year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards - the second time her work had been recognised - in an announcement made this morning.

Her collection Listening In was among 10 finalists in the poetry category and one of three publications from Otago University Press (OUP) that got a nod.

Women Mean Business: Colonial Businesswomen in New Zealand by Catherine Bishop, and Dead Letters: Censorship and Subversion in New Zealand 1914-1920 by Jared Davidson were both finalists in the general non-fiction group.

Paula Morris
Paula Morris
OUP publisher Rachel Scott hoped to make it two consecutive wins in the category, after Joanne Drayton’s Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love took out last year’s title.

She said a nomination meant ‘‘a huge amount’’ to authors and would give a welcome boost to sales.

‘‘Even though everyone knows it’s a subjective decision [by the judges], it still constitutes a very public recognition of your work,’’ Ms Scott said.

Joining them in the highly competitive general non-fiction section was Dunedin music legend Shayne Carter, whose memoir Dead People I Have Known received rave reviews.

This year’s awards drew over 170 entries, a 12% increase on the previous three years.

Paula Morris, of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, was thrilled with the quantity and quality of the entries.

‘‘We’re a very small market and sometimes the economics of publishing in New Zealand feel like they’re against you,’’ she said.

‘‘This is a sign of health and resilience.’’

Vying for the prestigious Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize were established authors such as Elizabeth Knox and Owen Marshall alongside debutants like Ruby Porter and Sharon Lam.

While there were many deserving finalists, Dr Morris said, there would be no repeat of the Booker Prize drama of last year where joint winners shared the award.

‘‘I think it was ridiculous to be honest,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s very hard to pick a winner, but that’s the job as judges.’’

The shortlists will be announced on March 4 and winners at a ceremony on May 12.

Awards long list


The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press)

Lonely Asian Woman by Sharon Lam (Lawrence & Gibson)

Necessary Secrets by Greg McGee (Upstart Press)

Aue by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press)

Moonlight Sonata by Eileen Merriman (Black Swan, Penguin Random House)

Pearly Gates by Owen Marshall (Vintage, Penguin Random House)

Attraction by Ruby Porter (Text Publishing)

A Mistake by Carl Shuker (Victoria University Press)

Loving Sylvie by Elizabeth Smither (Allen & Unwin)

Halibut on the Moon by David Vann (Text Publishing)


Craven by Jane Arthur (Victoria University Press)

Listening In by Lynley Edmeades (Otago University Press)

Back Before You Know by Murray Edmond (Compound Press)

Under Glass by Gregory Kan (Auckland University Press)

Moth Hour by Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press)

Ransack by Essa-May Ranapiri (Victoria University Press)

How to Live by Helen Rickerby (Auckland University Press)

Lay Studies by Steven Toussaint (Victoria University Press)

Because a Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean by Sugar Magnolia Wilson (Auckland University Press)

How I Get Ready by Ashleigh Young (Victoria University Press)


Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Mahina-Tuai, Damian Skinner (Te Papa Press)

Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance edited by Stephanie Gordon, Matariki Williams, Puawai Cairns (Te Papa Press)

Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys edited by Catherine Hammond and Mary Kisler (Auckland University Press and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki)

Funny As: The Story of New Zealand Comedy by Paul Horan and Philip Matthews (Auckland University Press)

The New Photography: New Zealand’s First-generation Contemporary Photographers edited by Athol McCredie (Te Papa Press)

We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall and Tim Denee (Massey University Press)

Louise Henderson: From Life edited by Felicity Milburn, Lara Strongman, Julia Waite (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu)

McCahon Country by Justin Paton (Penguin Random House)

Colin McCahon: There is Only One Direction, Vol. 1 1919-1959 by Peter Simpson (Auckland University Press)

The Meaning of Trees: The History and Use of New Zealand’s Native Plants by Robert Vennell (HarperCollins)


Women Mean Business: Colonial Businesswomen in New Zealand by Catherine Bishop (Otago University Press)

Dead People I Have Known by Shayne Carter (Victoria University Press)

Dead Letters: Censorship and Subversion in New Zealand 1914-1920 by Jared Davidson (Otago University Press)

Shirley Smith: An Examined Life by Sarah Gaitanos (Victoria University Press)

Wild Honey: Reading New Zealand Women’s Poetry by Paula Green (Massey University Press)

Finding Frances Hodgkins by Mary Kisler (Massey University Press)

Towards the Mountain: A Story of Grief and Hope Forty Years on from Erebus by Sarah Myles (Allen & Unwin)

The New Zealand Wars by Vincent O’Malley (Bridget Williams Books)

Fifteen Million Years in Antarctica by Rebecca Priestley (Victoria University Press)

Whale Oil: One Man’s Fight to Save His Reputation, then His Life by Margie Thomson (Potton & Burton)

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