David Coventry and Chris Tse win Best First Books at 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

The MA in Creative Writing graduates claimed the Best First Book Awards in the Fiction and Poetry categories.

MA in Creative Writing graduates were among the winners at the inaugural Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Eight winners were announced at a ceremony in the Auckland Town Hall, including four in the Best First Book categories.

The Hubert Church Award for Fiction was presented to David Coventry, who completed the MA in 2010, for his first novel The Invisible Mile (Victoria University Press). Coventry's debut was also shortlisted for the overall Fiction prize: the  inaugural $50,000 Acorn Foundation Literary Award, which was won by Stephen Daisley.

The Invisible Mile will be published in the UK and the rest of the Commonwealth by Picador in mid-2016. Translations into Hebrew, Dutch, Spanish, German and Danish are to follow. Coventry received the Todd New Writers' Bursary in November 2015. Read about David Coventry's experience of the MA.

The Jessie Mackay Award for Poetry was presented to Chris Tse (MA in Creative Writing 2005) for  his first poetry collection How to Be Dead in the Year of Snakes (Auckland University Press).

Tse's poetry and short fiction have been recorded for radio and published in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, including Sport, Turbine, The New Zealand Listener, Landfall, Cha, Poetry NZ , Takahe, JAAM, Snorkel, Best New Zealand Poems, and Starch. He is one of three poets included in the joint collection AUP New Poets 4 (Auckland University Press, 2011).

New Zealand Book Awards Trust chair, Nicola Legat, says the winners’ works stood out in a stellar list of finalists.

'This year’s winning books are testament to the sheer hard work and passion of their authors and a determination for excellence on the part of their publishers. These awards are vital to the health and progression of our literature. The Trust salutes this year's winners, and sincerely thanks our sponsors and our outstanding judges,' says Ms Legat.

Read about all the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards winners.

Read about the MA in Creative Writing at Victoria's International Institute of Modern Letters.