Sunday, November 01, 2020

First-Timers Win Big Time

Two debut novels have walked off with this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards for crime fiction. Winners were declared during New Zealand’s WORD Christchurch Spring Festival (October 29-November 1).

Best Novel: Auē, by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press)

Also nominated: Whatever It Takes, by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press); Girl from the Tree House, by Gudrun Frerichs (Self-published); The Nancys, by R.W.R. McDonald (Allen & Unwin); In the Clearing, by J.P. Pomare (Hachette New Zealand); and The Wild Card, by Renée (Cuba Press)

Best First Novel: The Nancys, by R.W.R. McDonald (Allen & Unwin)

Also nominated: Tugga’s Mob, by Stephen Johnson (Clan Destine Press); Auē, by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press); and Into the Void, by Christina O’Reilly (Self-published e-book)

A news release notes that “Both winners were first-time novelists, and while their winning books were different in many ways, each was told in large part from the perspective of young children dealing with loss and violence in small-town New Zealand, each included a rich cast of diverse characters, and each expertly blended lighter moments with dark events in tense tales that could make readers gasp and laugh.”

This year marked the 10th anniversary of these commendations, which founder Craig Sisterson says “were established in 2010 to celebrate excellence in local crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing. ... [T]he Ngaios were modelled somewhat on the Hammett Prize in North America, which has been won by the likes of Margaret Atwood and focuses on ‘literary excellence’ in novels entwined with crime, so isn’t restricted to detective novels or whodunnits.”

Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees!

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