And the winners are…

So who were the notable winners at the Montana Book Awards (notable in that I actually managed to make a note of what they said)?

Readers’ Choice Award:
The 10 pm question by Kate de Goldi, who thought it was amazing to be asked to the grown-up table and then get dessert. Also a great night for Longacre, who had the two runners up in the Fiction category and the best dressed publisher.

New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book Award
The rehearsal by Eleanor Catton, who beamed in from Iowa in both senses of the word and whose mind was boggled by the fact that “there exists an award for first time authors”.

Novel about my wife by Emily Perkins, who thanked her long-suffering partner as ‘novelists are not easy to live with”.

Perkins also won the Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry and shared the best-dressed author kudos with Jill Trevelyan, who won the Biography category and the Montana Medal for non-fiction for Rita Angus: An artist’s life.  Trevelyan noted that there would never have been a book if  Rita Angus hadn’t written letters to Douglas Lilburn, if the famously private Lilburn hadn’t kept them and the Alexander Turnbull Library hadn’t both preserved them and made them accessible.

Collected Poems, 1951 – 2006 by C.K.Stead – “I’m not sure who I am…the anonymous editor of the collected works of the late C. K. Stead?”

The rocky shore by Jenny Bornholdt, who found it odd to be in France and giving her thanks long distance.

Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture
Ladies a plate: traditional home baking by Alexa Johnston, who thanked Montana for “giving us wine and giving us money”, as well as her mother and her husband and the bakers who created our history.

Len Castle: making the molecules dance by Len Castle, who said the book gods had been kind, but so they should be to a man who has been a giant of New Zealand artistry and craftsmanship for over 60 years. He mentioned the wonderful Lopdell House Gallery in Titirangi, which reminded me of what a great gallery it is, and lead me to resolve to drop by next time I’m out that way searching for the West’s house.

 And the Robyn Stewart kiss of death record? Not so bad this year.

Goodbye and Good luck

The 13th year of Montana’s sponsorship of the New Zealand Book awards was lucky for some on Monday the 28th July. The vines have truly been nurtured  but 2009 is the last year of Montana’s sponsorship and the valedictory speeches were heartfelt. There were few surprises in the winners, although there may have been some in the nominees.

Beautiful mihi opened proceedings, appropriately for Te wiki o te reo Maori, and strains of Blue Lady and Dominion Road (very exciting for me as I consider Mr Don McGlashan to be one of our greatest living writers)accompanied nominees and winners to the stage.

The Governor General greeted us in many languages and endeared himself by confiding that he was missing his own book club night to be present at the biggest book club dinner going.  He endeared himself to Emily Perkins by being an old boy of Richmond Road primary, the school her children attend.

I can report that Jennifer Ward-Lealand is as gorgeous as ever and that her presence of mind and professionalism equals her beauty. When judge Jane Westaway listed only two of the three nominees in the Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture category before inviting Alexa Johnston back to the stage to accepte the award, Ms Ward-Lealand pointed out in the nicest possible way that there was in fact one more nominee.

Westaway coped with the sort of  mistake that would see me still waking up in the middle of the night 20 years hence with enviable sangfroid by saying that she hadn’t been at the rehearsal.

I cannot report any bad behaviour, although Mark Williams, convenor of the judges’ panel, had to turn a bit waspish and chide some of the audience for being  rowdy and making it hard for him to concentrate.

At least the 2009 convenor got to loll about on a Rose and Heather sofa rather than stand painfully on special Montana shoes as Morrin Rout had to do a few years ago.

One nominee forgot her glasses and had to be escorted to the stage in mortal fear of a wardrobe malfunction and Emily Perkins dropped her Montana medal but recovered by observing that it “won’t be the only clanger I’ll drop tonight”.

And an era came to a close.

Wall of winners – The Montana New Zealand Book Awards

10pm questionNovel about my wifeAcid SongRocky ShoreRita AngusA continent on the moveBuying the landLen CastleLadies, a plateCK SteadHe pataka kupu
The RehearsalEverything talksMates and lovers

Montana New Zealand Book Awards

Montana New Zealand Book Award winners

Congratulations to the winners announced tonight at a gala dinner ceremony at Auckland War Memorial Museum. The 10PM Question by Kate De Goldi (Longacre Press) won the Readers’ Choice Award.

Fiction and winner of Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry: Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins (Allen & Unwin)

Runners up:
The 10PM Question by Kate De Goldi (Longacre Press)
Acid Song by Bernard Beckett (Longacre Press)

Poetry: The Rocky Shore by Jenny Bornholdt (Victoria University Press)

Biography and winner of Montana Medal for Non-Fiction: Rita Angus: An Artist’s Life by Jill Trevelyan (Te Papa Press)

Environment: A Continent on the Move: New Zealand Geoscience into the 21st Century edited by Ian Graham (Geological Society of New Zealand)

History: Buying the Land, Selling the Land by Richard Boast (Victoria University Press)

Illustrative: Len Castle: Making the Molecules Dance by Len Castle (Lopdell House Gallery)

Lifestyle & Contemporary Culture: Ladies, A Plate: Traditional Home Baking by Alexa Johnston (Penguin Group NZ)

Reference & Anthology: Collected Poems 1951-2006 by CK Stead (Auckland University Press)

Te Reo Māori: He Pātaka Kupu te kai a te rangatira, (A Storehouse of Words – the food of chiefs)

New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) Best First Book Awards

  • Fiction: The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton (Victoria University Press)
  • Poetry: Everything Talks by Sam Sampson (Auckland University Press)
  • Non-Fiction: Mates & Lovers: A Gay History of New Zealand by Chris Brickell (Random House NZ)
  • For media reactions see:

    And it looks like Robyn (who is at the ceremony tonight) has broken her hoodoo and picked some winners this time!

    From The Montanas

    Once again the literary set managed to keep a civil tongue in their heads, at least in public, at last night’s Montana  New Zealand Book Awards, but overhearing the question “who is Sidney Nolan?” in the foyer on the way in did make me think they need to brush up their general knowledge.

    No-one had to ask the extremely glamorous and competent M.C.,  Jennifer Ward-Lealand, who she was wearing because it was helpfully noted at the bottom of the menu and programme of events (Liz Mitchell in case you’re wondering).

    The Prime Minister was greeted several times in absentia before she managed to be in presentia, rushing from one event to another but looking very smart in black and as gracious as ever in her support of the arts. Nicky Wagner, National’s Associate Spokeswoman for Arts, Culture and Heritage, started her day at the Central Library in Christchurch and ended it at the Montanas – obviously a true book lover. 

    Charlotte Grimshaw was of course the big winner on the night with Opportunity, despite predictions that she wouldn’t be winning because she wasn’t present.  Via satellite she pronounced herself a proud Labour voter,  announced she had already written a sequel to Opportunity and begun a novel featuring the same characters and was generally a polished and professional performer.

    Mary McCallum, whose book The Blue was the winner of the  New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for fiction was a bit more enthusiastic. She’d  discovered the pleasures of checking out library web-sites to see if her books were all out and was very excited to find there was a waiting list for it in Picton. In what must surely be a first there was also a veiled criticism of the judges from a winner, when the controversy over choosing four novels not five was referred to in an acceptance speech.

    And now for my own awards:

    Best opening remark of an acceptance speech – “I never thought I’d be on stage with Jennifer Ward-Lealand”.

    Best literary witticism –  “I’ve been doing this since C.K. Stead was in short sentences”.

    Best editor – Rachel Scott, publisher at Canterbury University Press, who edited both the winner and the runner-up in the fiction category.

    Most unnerving moment – being surrounded by black-suited Myrmidons disguised as wait-staff awaiting a signal from their ear-piece wearing leader. I had a nasty moment wondering just what they had planned but all they wanted to do was whisk away our plates in one synchronised movement.

    Worst choice of favourites – me – none of mine won.

    Montana NZ Book Awards winners

    The winners have been announced, here they are in a symphony of colour.


    EdwinTe TauBill Hammond

    Continue reading

    The Montanas; Countdown to the Red Carpet

    Actually there isn’t a red carpet in my experience but there should be.  John Campbell and Kim Hill could breathlessly ask “And who are you wearing?” before the event instead of all that boring stuff about the books afterwards. The back-up of authors waiting to answer would offer far more possiblities for drama than the Academy Awards, the world of writing in New Zealand being as small as it is and feelings as easily hurt as they are.

    Having attended the last five Montana New Zealand Book Awards gala dinners I have to report a sad lack of observed bad behaviour – stories of authors leaving abruptly half-way through dinner when their names weren’t called and judges being menaced in hallways have proved tantalisingly impossible to verify.

    But that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen and I am holding out hope for some shenanigans tonight. Surely out of all the publishers who can’t get their writers onto the shortlists and writers who can’t get publishers or who have fallen out with the ones they’ve got, not to mention reviewers and reviewees and this year’s more-than-usually disaffected novelists, there’ll be some entertaining naughtiness from those who should know better.

    I’ll be reporting on the awards tomorrow, some of my picks are:

    Poetry – The Pop-Up Book of Invasions by Fiona Farrell (every book of hers would win the wonderful writing award if there was one)

    Biography – Waimarino County & Other Excursions by Martin Edmond

    Fiction – Luminous  by Alice Tawhai

    Illustrative – Aberhart by Laurence Aberhart, with essays by Gregory O’Brien and Justin Paton (don’t miss the exhibition, on at the Christchurch Art Gallery now).



    I’ve never been much for collections of short stories (big, fat Stephen King novels have always been more my style) but Alice Tawhai’s latest, Luminous is making me reconsider my formerly dismissive stance. Luminous, which is one of the Fiction finalists in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards is full of juicy little narrative morsels all of which can be comfortably read over morning tea.

    Tawhai has a lovely way of describing the people and surroundings in her stories that paints a recognisable picture in only a few words (surely a necessity in the short story format). Consider if you will –

    In the living room, Kuki had to pick his way across holes in the floor to get to the old chairs, which looked a lot like puddings that had been sat on. Continue reading

    Montana New Zealand Book Awards

    The finalists have been announced today for this year’s Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

    Here’s our lists of category finalists so you can get reading the nominees:

    Fiction finalists
    Poetry finalists
    Biography finalists
    History finalists
    Illustrative finalists
    Environment finalists
    Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture finalists
    Reference and Anthology finalists

    There’s been a bit of a controversy as only four novels (instead of the usual five) have been nominated in the fiction category. They are:

    <The Blue<EdwinLuminousOpportunity
    Find out more from Bookman Beattie.

    More commentary:

    Montana New Zealand Book Awards

    Mister PipThe winners of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2007 were announced at a gala function in Auckland last night (Monday 30 July).

    Lloyd Jones won the fiction category and the Readers’ Choice award for Mister Pip, further increasing the Man Booker Prize murmurs (the longlist comes around the 10th August):

    Continue reading