Ockham New Zealand Book Awards: Finalists announced

From top left clockwise, Kate Duignan, Fiona Kidman, Vincent O'Sullivan, and Lloyd Jones. - Photo: Robert Cross/ Fair use / Auckland Writers Festival / NZ Festival Writers and Readers

The finalists for the national book awards have been announced.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, which are in their 51st year, celebrate the country's top writers.

Authors Lloyd Jones, Fiona Kidman, Vincent O'Sullivan and Kate Duignan have been shortlisted for the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize.

The award is the country's most prestigious literary prize, worth $53,000.

Past recipients include Witi Ihimaera, Keri Hulme and Maurice Gee.

Judge Sally Blundell said the authors stood out "for their ability to explore personal memory and collective mediation of the truth in new and provocative ways that have a lasting impact on the reader".

Award-winning novelist Joseph O'Neill will assist three New Zealand judges to select this year's winner.

The General Non-Fiction, Poetry and Illustrated Non-Fiction category winners will each receive a $10,000 prize.

Awards trustee Jenna Todd said the shortlist showed just how strong New Zealand literature was.

"Not only does the shortlist feature some of our best known writers - those with long and illustrious careers - but it also includes newcomers writing out of deep passion and engagement. These 16 books deepen the public discourse on a range of issues and the particular genius of each of their writers lifts them to an emotional plane at which they reward and endure for their readers," Ms Todd said.

All award winners will be announced at a ceremony in May.

Full list of Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalists:

The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize:

  •   •  The New Ships by Kate Duignan

  •   •  The Cage by Lloyd Jones

  •   •  This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman

  •   •  All This by Chance by Vincent O'Sullivan

The Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry:

  •   •  Are Friends Electric? by Helen Heath

  •   •  There's No Place Like the Internet in Springtime by Erik Kennedy

  •   •  The Facts by Therese Lloyd

  •   •  Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble

The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction:

  •   •  Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love by Joanne Drayton

  •   •  Memory Pieces by Maurice Gee

  •   •  We Can Make a Life by Chessie Henry

  •   •  With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War by Anna Rogers

Illustrated Non-Fiction Award:

  •   •  Fight for the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand's Native Forests by Paul Bensemann

  •   •  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

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