It could be read as a who's who of New Zealand literature; instead it's the long list for the country's most prestigious book awards.
Organisers says this year's Ockham NZ Book Awards' long list, announced today, is "laden with literary luminaries" with each of the four main categories featuring previous winners and nominees. It is in marked contrast to last year's selection, which saw emerging writers and those experimenting with form and structure favoured by judges.
Ten books are longlisted in each of the four awards categories - fiction, general non-fiction, illustrated non-fiction and poetry – with the shortlist to be announced on March 6 and the winners at the first event of the Auckland Writers Festival in May.
The Acorn Foundation Fiction category, accompanied by a $53,000 prize, includes the latest works by Charlotte Grimshaw, Kirsty Gunn, Lloyd Jones, Anne Kennedy, Fiona Kidman, Maurice Gee and Vincent O'Sullivan.
All are previous NZ book award winners but they face tough competition from fellow first-time nominees, Rajorshi Chakraborti, Majella Cullinane, Kate Duignan and Tina Makereti whose books have been favourably reviewed.
Of Makereti's The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke, Herald book reviewer David Hill wrote, "Tina Makereti's characters move among places and people where mundane blends with marvellous; colloquial with lyrical; violent with self-sacrificial ... Makereti is able to take a moment and examine its reality, even as she turns it into something symbolic and transcending ..."
Kiran Dass described Kate Duignan's The New Ships as a "very satisfying first novel" and went on to say, "Settings and characters are fully realised, rich in sensory and physical detail. Duignan brilliantly captures, for example, boardroom behaviour in the legal world."
Writing in the NZ Listener, reviewer Catherine Robertson summed up The Man Who Would Not See, Rajorshi Chakraborti's fifth novel, as "… an absorbing, gripping read that is ultimately about the importance of family and the emotional labour required to create deep, honest connections."
Photographer Jane Ussher receives two nominations in the Illustrated Non-fiction category, one for The New Zealand Horse by Deborah Coddington and the other for her work on Nigel Watson's Hillary's Antarctica: Adventure, Exploration and Establishing Scott Base.
NZ Book Awards Trust chairwoman Nicola Legat says the awards, which started in 1968 as the Wattie Book Awards, signal an encouraging situation for the country's literature with a large number of entries received from a mix of established and emerging writers.
The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlisted titles are:
Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize:
The Man Who Would Not See by Rajorshi Chakraborti
The Life of De'Ath by Majella Cullinane
The New Ships by Kate Duignan
Mazarine by Charlotte Grimshaw
Caroline's Bikini by Kirsty Gunn
The Cage by Lloyd Jones
The Ice Shelf by Anne Kennedy
This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman
The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke by Tina Makereti
All This by Chance by Vincent O'Sullivan
The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction:
Filming the Colonial Past: The New Zealand Wars on Screen
by Annabel Cooper
Song for Rosaleen
by Pip Desmond
Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love
by Joanne Drayton
by Maurice Gee
The Heart of Jesús Valentino: A Mother's Story
by Emma Gilkison
We Can Make a Life
by Chessie Henry
Swim: A Year of Swimming Outdoors in New Zealand
by Annette Lees
The Vulgar Wasp: The Story of a Ruthless Invader and Ingenious Predator
by Phil Lester
With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War
by Anna Rogers
Dear Oliver: Uncovering a Pākehā History
by Peter Wells
Illustrated Non-Fiction Award:
Fight for the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand's Native Forests
by Paul Bensemann
Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors and the Māori World, 1880-1910
by Roger Blackley
The New Zealand Horse
by Deborah Coddington and photographs by Jane Ussher
Mataatua Wharenui: Te Whare i Hoki Mai
by Layne Harvey, Hirini Mead, Pouroto Ngaropo and Te Onehou Phillis
Wanted: The Search for the Modernist Murals of E. Mervyn Taylor
edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith
Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing
by Sean Mallon with Sébastien Galliot
Birdstories: A History of the Birds of New Zealand
by Geoff Norman
Whatever it Takes: Pacific Films and John O'Shea 1948-2000
by John Reid
Down the Bay: A natural and cultural history of Abel Tasman National Park
by Philip Simpson
Hillary's Antarctica: Adventure, Exploration and Establishing Scott Base
by Nigel Watson, photographs by Jane Ussher
Edgeland and other Poems
by David Eggleton
The Farewell Tourist
by Alison Glenny
Are Friends Electric?
by Helen Heath
All of Us
by Adrienne Jansen and Carina Gallegos
There's No Place Like the Internet in Springtime
by Erik Kennedy
by Therese Lloyd
by Harry Ricketts
Walking to Jutland Street
by Michael Steven
by Tayi Tibble
Aspiring Daybook: The Diary of Elsie Winslow
by Annabel Wilson