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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The prize-winner that didn't win

It's an irresistible headline.  Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries is good enough to win the International Man Booker Prize (and sell heaps of copies -- 560,000 print and digital worldwide, at last count), but it is not the best book in New Zealand.

 Instead, it was trumped by the story of a Wellington art dealer. Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer by Wellington author Jill Trevelyan won the top prize at the ceremony last night.

Published by the press of our national museum, Te Papa (which must be very chuffed at the success, having had a run of bad news lately, what with two loss-making major exhibits), the biography also won the Best General Non-Fiction category.

The judges called it, "Not just a compelling read, it is a supreme achievement that delivers on every front."

New Zealand's iconic poet, Vincent O'Sullivan, took the Best Poetry prize with Us, Then, which, like The Luminaries, was published by Fergus Barrowman at Victoria University Press.

And the Best Illustrated Non-Fiction prize went to Coast: A New Zealand Journey, by Bruce Ansley, and one of my favorite photographers, Jane Ussher.  and it was published by one of my favorite publishers, Random House NZ.

The Nielson Booksellers' Choice Award went to Molesworth: Stories from New Zealand's Highest High-country Station, by Harry Broad and Rob Suisted.  It was published by a house that often (like Random House and Victoria University Press) appears in this list, Craig Potton Publishing.

And Eleanor Catton did not go away empty-handed, after all.  The Luminaries won both the Best Fiction and the People's Choice awards.

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