Friday, October 31, 2014

The 2015 New Zealand Book Awards: the sequel

Paula Morris writes in the latest issue of Booknotes about the pros and cons of what has happened to New Zealand’s book awards, detailed here previously. In short, there won’t be any awards in 2015 and in 2016 they will be part of the Auckland Writers Festival: this means that instead of one year’s books being judged, it will be 18 months’ worth. Paula canvassed opinion from an impressive range of people in the book trade: authors, publishers, booksellers and assorted media types. And me.

Comments include “ridiculous”, “lamentable”, “Readers don’t seem to care about New Zealand books” and more.

Those of us who have been involved with the awards over the years are more positive. Publishers’ Association president Sam Elworthy says the new structure offers “an opportunity to establish a more relevant, more high-impact awards”.

Author Vanda Symon says:
When I was a judge the year before last, they changed the timing of the award, so we were judging 18 months’ worth. It didn’t create a ripple […] I love the idea of the awards being incorporated into a festival, part of a week-long celebration for the readers as well as the writers, rather than one special and rather extravagant night for the writers.

Paula’s article is really good, of interest to everyone in the NZ book world. Best bit for me was this, quote unquote:
[…] there’s much off-the-record muttering among the literary community, particularly outside Auckland.

I think we all know that what means. So here is Sam Cooke in 1958 with Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive”:

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