Editorial – Issue 20

Editorial – Issue 20, October 1995

Two awards for the price of one

The Wattie has long gone, beans having been swapped for wine. Now the New Zealand book awards go, too. There is to be from next year one “premier” awards event, the Montana New Zealand book awards. Montana and Creative New Zealand, which used to go by the sensible name of the Arts Council before succumbing to the virus which turned hospitals anachronistically into the likes of “Good Health”, will jointly sponsor the amalgamated awards. They will have the same total prize money as the two predecessors combined.

Booksellers New Zealand will manage the awards. There will be a festival of books to go with them. Author tours and readings will be a part of that.

Brian Stevenson, Creative New Zealand chair, said the new awards “are an important development for the literary arts in New Zealand. The combined event will raise awareness about New Zealand authors and their books and promote them vigorously.”

Not so, said Fiona Kidman, chair of the Book Council. “The position of quality non‑fiction, fiction and poetry, upon which our literary profile rests, is considerably reduced.”

This month is the Listener women’s book festival. So in this issue we have attempted to review as many of the locally‑written top 20 books as we could get in time. Some plays arrived too late but we have managed to cover most of the others.

We will attempt to do the same at the time of the Wellington arts festival next year. Writer’s week provides a vigorous exchange of ideas and chat: we will aim to be part of that.

This issue is larger than normal, to clear a backlog of reviews. We have not succeeded. Notably, we have had to hold out a major review of Stevan Eldred‑Grigg by Chris Prentice and an excellent little essay on Gauguin and Maori art by Hamish Keith. To assure you of diversity in what will be another bulging issue in December, we expect to carry two articles on rugby. Art has many forms.

Colin James

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