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Leading Academic Convenes Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2009

By January 28, 2009 No Comments

 A senior academic will lead the judging panel in the country’s most prestigious book awards this year.

Mark Williams, author and professor of English at Victoria University will judge the 2009 Montana New Zealand Book Awards together with award-winning writer, reviewer and editor, Jane Westaway and literary critic, journalist and editor, Margo White.

This year’s judging panel say the field is rich with established and new writers and there is an especially large number of beautifully produced books to consider.

‘We are looking for excellence across the whole range of New Zealand books dealing with subjects as various as art, cooking, war, gardening, and gay lifestyles.

‘With around 215 books to read and 15 separate prizes to award, we have full reading schedules. We are advised by experts in each of the eight main categories: fiction, poetry, history, biography, reference and anthology, lifestyle and contemporary culture, illustrative, and environment…The judges’ responsibilities are collective and we shall all read and, together with our advisors, debate our judgments across the whole range of books submitted,’ says convenor, Mark Williams.

Professor Mark Williams has previously taught at the University of Tokyo and University of Canterbury. His publications on New Zealand and modern literature include Leaving the Highway: Six Contemporary New Zealand Novelists (Auckland University Press, 1990), Patrick White (Macmillan, 1993), and, with Jane Stafford, M?oriland: New Zealand Literature 1872-1914 (Victoria University Press, 2006). He has edited or co-edited numerous anthologies and collections and is on the editorial boards of several international literary journals.

Jane Westaway’s book, Reliable Friendly Girls (Longacre, 1996) won Best First Book at the 1997 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Love and Other Excuses (Longacre, 1999) was shortlisted for the same awards in 2000, and the novel, Good at Geography also appeared that year. She co-edited the anthology, It Looks Better on You – New Zealand Women Writers on Their Friendships (Longacre, 2003) and co-wrote Accusation – A Wife’s Story (Longacre, 2005). She reviews for Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon, and is co-editor of the review quarterly New Zealand Books. She lives in Wellington, and teaches judgment writing in New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Margo White has worked on several magazines, including the NZ Listener, where she first worked as a feature writer before becoming the magazine’s Arts and Books Editor, and Metro magazine, where she was Senior Writer and Books Editor. She is currently the deputy editor of New Zealand Geographic and also writes in a freelance capacity for a range of publications. She lives in Auckland.

In selecting finalists and winners, judges take into account each book’s enduring literary merit and overall authorship; quality of illustration and graphic presentation; production values, general design and the standard of editing and the impact of the book on the community, with emphasis on issues such as quality, topicality, public interest, entertainment, cultural and educational values and life span of the book.

The 2009 Montana New Zealand Book Awards category advisors are:

  • Fiction: Tina Shaw is a novelist, short story writer, editor and reviewer
  • Poetry: Bernadette Hall is an award-winning poet, essayist, editor, reviewer and creative writing tutor.
  • Biography: Philip Norman is a freelance composer, author and biography category winner (2007) in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
  • Environment: Geoff Chapple is a writer, editor, former Montana New Zealand Book Awards judge and former winner of the award’s environment category.
  • Reference and Anthology: Anna Rogers is a freelance book editor and writer.
  • History: Tim Beaglehole Emeritus Professor, MA PhD. Chancellor, Victoria University and published writer.
  • Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture: Charmian Smith is feature writer and food and wine editor at the Otago Daily Times.
  • Illustrative: Dr T L Rodney Wilson is recently retired director of the Auckland War Memorial Museum and a former Montana New Zealand Book Awards judge.
  • Te Reo Advisor: Hone Apanui is a widely respected Maori linguist, teacher and publisher.

The skills and experience of the panel and category advisors ensures the judging of the 13th Montana New Zealand Book Awards will be robust.

This year’s finalists will be announced on Tuesday, 2 June.

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Monday 27 July.  

The winner of the poetry category will be announced on Montana Poetry Day, Friday 24 July.

The principal sponsors of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards are Montana and Creative New Zealand.  The awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and supported by Book Publishers Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.