New Zealand author Lloyd Jones has won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize overall best book award for 2007 for his novel Mister Pip.
The last New Zealander to win the award was Janet Frame, in 1989 for The Carpathians.
Creative New Zealand chief executive Stephen Wainwright said yesterday he was thrilled for Jones.
"Jones has been a committed fulltime writer for more than 20 years and it is wonderful to see this latest, very fine novel recognised with such a prestigious award as the Commonwealth Writers' Prize."
Mister Pip tells the story of a teacher who educates a small village's children by reading them Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. After the book is destroyed in rebel fighting, he encourages them to retell the story from remembered fragments.
Jones' novel - described as "mesmerising" by one judge - has been sold into 15 countries and earned him an estimated $1 million in foreign rights sales.
The Wellington-based writer's next move is a shift to Germany where he will live for 11 months as this year's recipient of the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers' Residency.
He plans to move there in August to work on a new novel as well as two non-fiction projects.
The best first-book award, worth £5000, went to Canadian D.Y. Bechard for Vandal Love, which follows generations of a French-Canadian family afflicted with a curse that causes their children to be born either giants or runts.