Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 15, 2018

2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards winners

Well, tonight’s the night the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards were announced at the Auckland Writers’ Festival and the winners are…


Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize

  • The New Animals by Pip Adam (Victoria University Press) – I haven’t read this one, maybe I should, now?  Update: I did, and it’s a worthy winner. See my review here.

This is the blurb from the NZ Book Awards website:

The New Animals is a strange, confrontational, revelatory novel that holds a mirror up to contemporary New Zealand culture. Adam handles a large ensemble of unrooted characters with skill. She gets beneath the skin of her characters in ways that make the reader blink, double-take, and ultimately reassess their sense of the capabilities of fiction. A transition late in the novel is both wholly unexpected and utterly satisfying. It’s stylistically raw and reveals a good deal in a modest way. The New Animals is so vivid in imagery and imagination that the judges haven’t stopped thinking about it since. In this category in 2018 it’s the book with the most blood on the page. It will give you an electric shock. It will bring readers back from the dead.

Hubert Church Best First Book Award

  • Baby by Annaleese Jochems

Again, this is the blurb from the awards website:

A novel that shimmers with feverish, fatalistic intensity, Baby is a strange and strangely moving love story built on obsession, narcissism and damage. It is a much deserved recipient of the Best First Book Award for Fiction. Guest international judge, Alan Taylor, says of Baby: ‘Baby is the kind of novel that lingers in the memory long after you put it down. It is raw, bleak, blackly funny, unpredictable and unsentimental, with shafts of sunny lyricism and passages of clean prose that are veined with menace. It is by any standard a remarkable debut novel by a young writer who has set a very high bar for herself. Where Annaleese Jochems goes from here is anyone’s guess but wherever it is, the truly curious will want to follow her.’

Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction AND E.H. McCormickBest First Book, General Non-Fiction Award

  • Driving to Treblinka, A Long Search for a Lost Father by Diana Wichtel

Illustrated Non-fiction Award

  • Tuai, A Traveller in Two Worlds, by Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins

Jessie Binney Best First Book Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction

  • Caves by Marcus Thomas and Neil Silverwood


  • Night Horse by Elizabeth Smither

Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry

    • Fully Clothed and SO Forgetful by Hannah Mettner

I’m still disappointed that Catherine Chidgey’s The Beat of the Pendulum didn’t get a mention... My post about the shortlist is here, and you can see my review here and there are reviews of other longlisted books here.


  1. Tx Lisa, I’ll have a look at these.


    • You’re welcome, thanks for dropping by:)


  2. Jeez. The judges got a bit carried away describing the winning book, didn’t they? I mean, it sounds terrific but their description seems a bit OTT 🙄


  3. Hi Lisa, I’m not sure Pip Adam’s book holds much appeal for me but I will have to read it as I am leading the discussion in October…I hope it is not like The Power which I really disliked.


    • Hi Helen:)
      Both the fiction books are interesting enough for me to bring them home from the library, but not enough for me to buy them. Kiwi books are expensive (even with free postage from Fishpond), so I need to feel confident I’m going to like them before ordering them. But maybe my indie booksellers will get copies in and then we can get a look at them in the shop first:)


  4. Those blurbs are lush but I still don’t know what the books are about 😂 (the cover of Baby is enough to suck me in).


    • If we wait a little while there might be reviews at Goodreads to help us make up our minds. But the hard part is finding them, most of those ‘5-star “honest” reviews in return for a free book’ are just nuisance value, you have get past them, to find genuine reviews that offer some insight about the book.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll just have to wait for your thorough reviews 😉


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