OKHAM New Zealand Book Awards Longlist Announced
Do you want to read the best of the best in New Zealand books?
Then look no further than the OKHAM New Zealand book awards. The awards celebrate the best fiction, non-fiction (general and illustrated), and poetry that New Zealand has published over the past year.
This week we are featuring the fiction nominees. The prize is called the Acorn Foundation prize for best Fiction and the winner will receive $55,000. The longlist becomes a shortlist of four and then the awards are announced 14 May 2020.
The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
Taryn Cornick believes that the past is behind her – her sister’s death by violence, and her own ill-conceived revenge. She has chosen to live a life more professional than personal. She has written a book about the things that threaten libraries – insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring. The book is a success, but not all of the attention it brings her is good. There are questions about a fire in the library at Princes Gate, her grandparents’ house, and about an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter.
A policeman, Jacob Berger, has questions about a cold case. There are threatening phone calls. And a shadowy young man named Shift appears, bringing his shadows with him. Taryn, Jacob, Shift – three people are driven towards a reckoning felt in more than one world.
Auē by Becky Manawatu
Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father's. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home.
But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plaster
Moonlight Sonata by Eileen Merriman
A bitter-sweet novel of forbidden love and family secrets... It's the annual New Year family get-together. Molly is dreading having to spend time with her mother, but she is pleased her son will see his cousins and is looking forward to catching up with her brothers... Joe in particular. Under the summer sun, family tensions intensify, relationships become heightened and Molly and Joe will not be the only ones with secrets that must be kept hidden.
Pearly Gates by Owen Marshall
Pat 'Pearly' Gates has achieved a lot in his life and evinces considerable satisfaction in his achievements. He has a reputation as a former Otago rugby player and believes he would have been an All Black but for sporting injuries. He runs a successful real-estate agency in a provincial South Island town, of which he is the second-term mayor. Popular, happily married, well established, he cuts an impressive figure, especially in his own eyes. But will his pride and complacency come before a fall?
Attraction by Ruby Porter
The present reckons with the past in Attraction, Ruby Porter’s atmospheric debut novel. Three women are on a road trip, navigating the motorways of the North Island, their relationships with one another and New Zealand’s colonial history. Our narrator doesn’t know where she stands with Ilana, her not-quite girlfriend. She has a complex history with her best friend, Ashi. She’s haunted by the memory of her emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend. And her period’s now weeks late. Attraction is a meditative novel of connection, inheritance and the stories we tell ourselves. In lyrical fragments, Porter explores what it means to be and to belong, to create and to destroy.
A Mistake by Carl Shuker
Elizabeth Taylor is a surgeon at a city hospital, a gifted, driven and rare woman excelling in a male-dominated culture. One day, while operating on a young woman in a critical condition, something goes gravely wrong... a compelling story of human fallibilty and the dangerous hunger for black and white answers in a world of exponential complication and nuance.
Loving Sylvie by Elizabeth Smither
A sensual, witty novel that cleverly weaves in the stories of three generations of women: Sylvie, her mother Madeleine and grandmother Isobel, focusing most strongly on the relationship between grandmother and granddaughter. The narrative shifts between the points of view of each main character, telling their stories with gentle, deeply observant humour, through their love affairs, food, rivalries, marriages, pets and all the beautiful minutiae of everyday life.
Halibut on the Moon by David Vann
Middle-aged and deeply depressed, Jim arrives in California from Alaska and surrenders himself to the care of his brother Gary, who intends to watch over him. Swinging unpredictably from manic highs to extreme lows, Jim wanders ghost-like through the remains of his old life attempting to find meaning in his tattered relationships with family and friends. As sessions with his therapist become increasingly combative and his connections to others seem ever more tenuous, Jim is propelled forward by his thoughts, which have the potential to lead him, despairingly, to his end. Halibut on the Moon is a searing exploration of a man held captive by the dark logic of depression and struggling mightily to wrench himself free. In vivid and haunting prose, Vann offers us an aching portrait of a mind in peril, searching desperately for some hope of redemption.