09 Mar 2020

The shortlist is out for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction for 2020

The four finalists for the 2020 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, valued at $55,000, are:

  • Auē by Becky Manawatu
  • Pearly Gates by Owen Marshall
  • A Mistake by Carl Shuker
  • Halibut on the Moon by David Vann

Following a press release from the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Mark Broatch, spokesperson for the fiction judges, applauded the “cheeringly excellent year for New Zealand fiction,” with novels and short story collections of great range, depth and surprise.

“Forced to winnow a great longlist to four, the judges found that these books stood above the others – for their storytelling brio, their exploration of salient ideas, and their dedication to language as a salve and seasoning for the mind, the marrow, the spirit,” he says.

Award-winning Australian (Wiradjuri) writer Tara June Winch will assist the three New Zealand judges to select this year’s Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction winner.

In total, there were 16 finalists announced last week with compelling works that explore and re-imagine the natural, cultural and creative landscapes of Aotearoa New Zealand.  These finalists were selected by four panels of three specialist judges (for fiction, poetry, illustrated non-fiction and general non-fiction) and were drawn from 40 longlisted titles that had been narrowed down from more than 170 entries – a 12 percent increase in submissions on the last three years.

The winners of the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, including the four MitoQ Best First Book award winners, will be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday 12 May as a marquee event during the 2020 Auckland Writers Festival.

The 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlisted titles are:

Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction:
Auē by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press)
Pearly Gates by Owen Marshall (Vintage, Penguin Random House)
A Mistake by Carl Shuker (Victoria University Press)
Halibut on the Moon by David Vann (Text Publishing)

Mary and Peter Biggs Awards for Poetry:
Moth Hour by Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press)
How to Live by Helen Rickerby (Auckland University Press)
Lay Studies by Steven Toussaint (Victoria University Press)
How I Get Ready by Ashleigh Young (Victoria University Press)

Illustrated Non-Fiction Award:
Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai, Damian Skinner (Te Papa Press)
Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance edited by Stephanie Gibson, Matariki Williams, Puawai Cairns (Te Papa Press)
We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall and Tim Denee (Massey University Press)
McCahon Country by Justin Paton (Penguin Random House)

General Non-Fiction Award:
Dead People I Have Known by Shayne Carter (Victoria University Press)
Shirley Smith: An Examined Life by Sarah Gaitanos (Victoria University Press)
Wild Honey: Reading New Zealand Women’s Poetry by Paula Green (Massey University Press)
Towards the Mountain: A Story of Grief and Hope Forty Years on from Erebus by Sarah Myles (Allen & Unwin)