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Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2020 longlists announced

The longlists for the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards have been announced.

The longlisted titles in each category are:


  • The Absolute Book (Elizabeth Knox, Victoria University Press)
  • Lonely Asian Woman (Sharon Lam, Lawrence & Gibson)
  • Necessary Secrets (Greg McGee, Upstart Press)
  • Auē (Becky Manawatu, Mākaro Press)
  • Moonlight Sonata (Eileen Merriman, Black Swan)
  • Pearly Gates (Owen Marshall, Vintage)
  • Attraction (Ruby Porter, Text)
  • A Mistake (Carl Shuker, Victoria University Press)
  • Loving Sylvie (Elizabeth Smither, A&U)
  • Halibut on the Moon (David Vann, Text)

General nonfiction

  • Women Mean Business: Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand (Catherine Bishop, Otago University Press)
  • Dead People I Have Known (Shayne Carter, Victoria University Press)
  • Dead Letters: Censorship and subversion in New Zealand 1914–1920 (Jared Davidson, Otago University Press)
  • Shirley Smith: An examined life (Sarah Gaitanos, Victoria University Press)
  • Wild Honey: Reading New Zealand women’s poetry (Paula Green, Massey University Press)
  • Finding Frances Hodgkins (Mary Kisler, Massey University Press)
  • Towards the Mountain: A story of grief and hope forty years on from Erebus (Sarah Myles, A&U)
  • The New Zealand Wars | Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa (Vincent O’Malley, Bridget Williams Books)
  • Fifteen Million Years in Antarctica (Rebecca Priestley, Victoria University Press)
  • Whale Oil: One man’s fight to save his reputation, then his life (Margie Thomson, Potton & Burton)


  • Craven (Jane Arthur, Victoria University Press)
  • Listening In (Lynley Edmeades, Otago University Press)
  • Back Before You Know (Murray Edmond, Compound Press)
  • Under Glass (Gregory Kan, Auckland University Press)
  • Moth Hour (Anne Kennedy, Auckland University Press)
  • Ransack (Essa-May Ranapiri, Victoria University Press)
  • How to Live (Helen Rickerby, Auckland University Press)
  • Lay Studies (Steven Toussaint, Victoria University Press)
  • Because a Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean (Sugar Magnolia Wilson, Auckland University Press)
  • How I Get Ready (Ashleigh Young, Victoria University Press)

Illustrated nonfiction

  • Crafting Aotearoa: A cultural history of making in New Zealand and the wider Moana Oceania (ed by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai, Damian Skinner, Te Papa Press)
  • Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of resistance, persistence and defiance (ed by Stephanie Gordon, Matariki Williams & Puawai Cairns, Te Papa Press)
  • Frances Hodgkins: European journeys (ed by Catherine Hammond & Mary Kisler, Auckland University Press and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki)
  • Funny As: The story of New Zealand comedy (Paul Horan & Philip Matthews, Auckland University Press)
  • The New Photography: New Zealand’s first-generation contemporary photographers (ed by Athol McCredie, Te Papa Press)
  • We Are Here: An atlas of Aotearoa (Chris McDowall & Tim Denee, Massey University Press)
  • Louise Henderson: From life (ed by Felicity Milburn, Lara Strongman & Julia Waite, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)
  • McCahon Country (Justin Paton, PRH)
  • Colin McCahon: There is only one direction, vol. 1 1919–1959 (Peter Simpson, Auckland University Press)
  • The Meaning of Trees: The history and use of New Zealand’s native plants (Robert Vennell, HarperCollins).

The winner of the fiction award receives NZ$55,000 (A$53,180), while the other category winners each receive NZ$10,000 (A$9670).

The shortlists will be announced on 4 March and the winners—including the Best First Book Awards and and a Māori Language Award—will be announced at a ceremony on 12 May.

For more information about the New Zealand Book Awards, click here.


Category: Awards Local news