Uncommonly good writers

At the upcoming 2011 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, three 2011 Commonwealth Writer’s prize regional winners speak  and read from their works, along with publisher and festival trustee Nicola Legat.

Craig Cliff – (Best First Book, South East Asia & South Pacific – A Man Melting) was born in Palmerston North, has lived in Australia and Scotland, and now resides in Wellington. He has had short stories published both here and in Australia.

Aminatta Forna – (Best  Book, Africa – The Memory Of Love) was born in Glasgow, raised in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom, and lives in London. She is the author of a memoir and two novels, and her works have been translated into 10 languages.

David Mitchell (Best Book, South Asia & Europe – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet) is an English novelist who has lived in Sicily and Japan and is currently living in Ireland.

The Commonwealth Writers’ prize is a leading award for fiction that was established in 1987 and covers the regions of Africa; Europe and South Asia; the Caribbean and Canada; and South East Asia and the South Pacific (that’s us folks).

It aims to recognise the best fiction by both established and new writers from these countries and ensure their works reach a wider audience, and almost 200 books have now been recognised with literary prizes since the scheme began. Each year prizes for Best Book and Best First Book are awarded in the four regions, then the eight winners compete for the overall pan-Commonwealth prizes.

New Zealanders have been well represented in the past, including: Lloyd Jones (Mister Pip); Janet Frame (The Carpathians); Witi Ihimaera (The Matriarch);  Mo Zhi Hong (the Year Of The Shanghai Shark);  Kapka Kassabova (Reconnaissance); Catherine Chidgey (In A Fishbone Church); Charlotte Randall (Dead Sea Fruit); Beryl Fletcher (The Word Burners); John Cranna (Visitors); and Craig Cliff (A Man Melting).

It gives hope to all writers beavering away on their magnum opus, that apart from waiting to hear back from publishers, there is another way of getting recognition for your toil . Everyone needs to start somewhere, and it is heartening to read the above list of New Zealander’s who weren’t above entering a competition or two.

One thought on “Uncommonly good writers

  1. mj 12 May 2011 / 12:28 pm

    Can’t wait to hear more about Aminatta Forna – she sounds like a fascinating person.

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