In the first entirely virtual presentation in the history of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, debut authors Becky Manawatu and Shayne Carter took out not only their respective categories in the MitoQ Best First Book Awards, but also two of the main category prizes.
Westport writer Becky Manawatu won the $55,000 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction for her first novel Auē, as well as the Hubert Church Prize for a best first book of Fiction. Dunedin’s Straitjacket Fits frontman Shayne Carter won the General Non-Fiction Award for Dead People I Have Known, and also the E.H. McCormick Prize for a best first work of General Non-Fiction.
The other main category winners on the night were Wellington writer, editor and publisher Helen Rickerby, who won the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry for her collection How to Live, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa curator team of Stephanie Gibson, Matariki WIlliams and Puawai Cairns, who won the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award for Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance.
The Fiction category judges were unanimous in their decision to select Auē for both Fiction prizes. “There is violence and sadness and rawness in this book, but buoyant humour too, remarkable insights into the minds of children and young men, incredible forgiveness and a massive suffusion of love,” they said.
Resources to help promote all the winners can be found on the Trust’s website.