The 16 finalist books in the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards have been announced today, and five of the 16 finalists are first-time authors.
The shortlist – selected from a long list of 40 books by four panels of specialist judges (for fiction, poetry, illustrated non-fiction and general non-fiction) – includes both literary luminaries and first-timers.
Rob Kidd, the convenor of judges for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction - which has a $60,000 prize this year - says the finalists in this category refuse to be pinned down by genre.
"These novels are packed with life in an array of ordinary and extraordinary forms; they all swell with vitality. A Good Winter by Gigi Fenster is an unnerving and absorbing reading experience as the darkness gradually closes in. Bryan Walpert's Entanglement is dazzlingly intelligent and ambitious in scope. Rebecca K Reilly's Greta & Valdin is gloriously queer, hilarious and relatable, and Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka is poetic, intense, clever and richly imagined."
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And American writer, editor and literary critic John Freeman will assist three New Zealand judges to select the fiction winner, who will take home the whopping $60,000 prize.
New Zealand Book Awards Trust spokesperson Paula Morris says the shortlist of 16 excellent books is surprising and surprisingly diverse.
"Shortlisted writers range from iconic names to emerging voices; publishers range from multinational to small independents. The quality of our writers, illustrators, editors and publishers makes these awards increasingly competitive and the winners impossible to predict," says Morris.
The winners of the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, including the four Crystal Arts Trust Best First Book award winners, will be announced on May 11.
The 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlisted titles are:
The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, Jann Medlicott and the Acorn Foundation, Mary and Peter Biggs CNZM, the Crystal Arts Trust, Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand and the Auckland Writers Festival.