Victoria University Press dominates literary awards

Victoria University Press (VUP) had a clean sweep at the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, winning all five categories it was shortlisted in including New Zealand’s richest writing award, the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize worth $50,000, awarded to Catherine Chidgey for The Wish Child.

Portraits of Catherine, Ashleigh and Hera.
Victoria University alumni L-R: Catherine Chidgey, Ashleigh Young, Hera Linsday Bird.

VUP also won the categories: Best First Non-Fiction for My Father’s Island by Adam Dudding, Best First Poetry for Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird, Best Non-Fiction for Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young and Best Poetry for Fits and Starts by Andrew Johnston.

“I couldn't be happier about last night’s results,” says VUP Publisher Fergus Barrowman.

“Having worked with these writers, in some cases for many years, I know that none of these were quick or easy books to write. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to publish them and it’s a big thrill to see them receive this deserved public recognition. And sales—all of our shortlisted books had to be reprinted, which is the clearest sign there could be of the strength of public interest in New Zealand literature.”

Catherine Chidgey, Ashleigh Young and Hera Lindsay Bird are Victoria University alumni and each are also recipients of Victoria’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing.

“It looks like the Adam Prize is a fairly accurate guide to future success at the national level and beyond,” says IIML Director Damien Wilkins. “Catherine Chidgey was the inaugural recipient in 1997, while Ashleigh Young and Hera Lindsay Bird are more recent winners. These are special writers with international readerships. We’re extremely proud of our astonishing graduates.”

As well as winning the Best Non-Fiction category, VUP editor and IIML creative writing tutor Ashleigh Young also edited three of the winning books: The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey, Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird and My Father's Island by Adam Dudding.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are New Zealand’s premier literary honours for works written by New Zealanders and are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, The Acorn Foundation, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd and the Royal Society Te Apārangi.