After a 12-month hiatus, the country’s premier book awards will return in 2016 with a new structure, a new judging process and a very significant, annual fiction prize of $50,000 thanks to generosity of a Bay of Plenty donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
The New Zealand Book Awards Trust chair, Nicola Legat, says she is delighted to announce the changes, and in particular the major fiction award, which is provided by the Acorn Foundation, through the generosity of one of its donors.
“It creates a tremendous and lasting literary legacy. The sum of $50,000 will be awarded to the top fiction work annually, in perpetuity. This will make a difference not only to the receiving writer, but also to the literary fabric of New Zealand. It is a huge gift for us all.”
The Acorn Foundation is a Western Bay of Plenty-based community foundation that encourages people to leave bequests in their wills, or gifts during their lifetimes.
Acorn Foundation’s Operation’s Manager, Margot McCool, says it is humbling to witness such generosity.
“Since 2003 we have been encouraging and enabling generosity, so that people who really care about their community can fulfil their wish of enabling organisations and causes they believe in. We are so pleased that this award will make such a difference to New Zealand novelists’ careers,” says Mrs McCool.
The New Zealand Book Awards winners will be announced at an event during the country’s largest literary gathering, the Auckland Writers Festival in May 2016.
In addition to an annual fiction winner, there will be a poetry, a general non-fiction and an illustrated non-fiction winner and, should there be sufficient entries, a Māori language award. The three Best First Book Awards and the People’s Choice Award will also continue.
The call for entries in the awards is scheduled for August 1 this year.
The four main categories will be judged by specialist judges, three per category, plus a Maori language adviser for the Maori language awards. The judges will select a long list of around eight books in each category. It will be announced in November 2015.
The shortlist of four books in each of the categories will be announced in early March 2016.