Music book scoops hat trick at top book awards

Chris Bourke. Photo / Supplied
Chris Bourke. Photo / Supplied

A book on the history of New Zealand music took the top prize at this year's New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson presented Chris Bourke with the book of the year award for Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964.

The Wellington author described the book as "a music history before it is a social or cultural history".

Convener of judges Paul Diamond said the work was a magnificent book that revealed a hidden social history.

"Blue Smoke tells us about ourselves, our music, and the way we take things from overseas and make them our own," he said.

Judge Charmaine Pountney said Bourke had interviewed many of the musicians that featured in the book, "drawing out anecdotes that enrich our understanding of our nation's cultural development".

Bourke scored a hat-trick, his book also taking out the general non-fiction award and the people's choice award.

The fiction award went to Dunedin writer Laurence Fearnley for her seventh novel, The Hut Builder.

Judge Emily Perkins said Fearnley had written "elating, transformative prose".

Wellington-based poet Kate Camp won the poetry award for her collection, The Mirror Of Simple Annihilated Souls, described by judge Michael Harlow as a truly thoughtful and engaging book of poems.

Gisborne freelance art historian and curator Damian Skinner took out the illustrated non-fiction award for his book The Passing World, The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kowhaiwhai.

Judge Bob Harvey described the work as a beautiful book that showcased Hovell's astonishing design and creativity for marae projects on the East Coast, urban Auckland and Coromandel.

The trilogy of wins meant Bourke was awarded $30,000 - $15,000 for the book of the year, $10,000 for his category win and $5000 for the people's choice award.

Award winners

* BOOK OF THE YEAR, GENERAL NON-FICTION AND PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS WINNER Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964, by Chris Bourke
The Hut Builder, by Laurence Fearnley
The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls, by Kate Camp
The Passing World: The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kowhaiwhai, by Damian Skinner.


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