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Kidman wins 2019 New Zealand Book Award for fiction

Fiona Kidman has won the NZ$53,000 (A$50,200) fiction prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for her novel This Mortal Boy (Vintage).

Judges said that This Mortal Boy, which recreates the events leading to the real-life hanging of the ‘jukebox killer’ Paddy Black in 1955, is an ‘intensely human and empathetic story’, that is ‘moving, memorable, authentic and urgently relevant to our times’.

Four other award categories were also announced, with each category winner receiving NZ$10,000 (A$9470). The category winners are:

Illustrated nonfiction

  • Tatua: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (Sean Mallon & Sébastien Galliot, Te Papa Press)


  • Are Friends Electric (Helen Heath, Victoria University Press)


  • Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love (Joanne Drayton, Otago University Press)

Māori language award

  • He Kupu Tuku Iho: Ko te Reo Māori te Tatau ki te Ao (Tīmoti Kāretu & Wharehuia Milroy, Auckland University Press).

Four Best First Book awards, each worth NZ$2500 (A$2300), were also announced. They are:


  • The Sound of Breaking Glass (Kirsten Warner, Mākaro Press)

General nonfiction

  • We Can Make a Life (Chessie Henry, Victoria University Press)


  • Poūkahangatus (Tayi Tibble, Victoria University Press)

Illustrated nonfiction

  • Whatever It Takes: Pacific Films and John O’Shea 1948-2000 (John Reid, Victoria University Press).

The winners were announced on 14 May at an event at the Auckland Writers Festival, chosen from shortlists announced in March.

To read more about the winning titles, see the New Zealand Book Awards Trust website.



Category: Awards Local news