Counter Culture
June 8, 2018 posted by Unity Wellington

AFTERGLOW: The New Animals – Ockham Winner Pip Adam

AFTERGLOW: The New Animals – Ockham Winner Pip Adam

6th June 2018 –

This Wednesday Unity Wellington had the great pleasure of hosting author Pip Adam to celebrate her 2018 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize win for her novel The New Animals, awarded at The Ockham NZ Book Awards this May. Pip was joined in discussion by Kirsten McDougall, VUP editor and author of Tess.

As the lunch break crowd continued to fill the store the two writers had plenty to talk about, Kirsten starting things of by introducing The New Animals as a view on a post colonial country through the lens of the fashion and hairdressing industries. On the issues Pip had in mind when she started writing The New Animals, she talked about fluid notions of identity in the modern world and the feelings of insecurity and fear that can accompany the experience of forging an identity. From a formal perspective, Pip talked about her desire to deconstruct the convention of the omniscient narrator. Kirsten asked Pip how her own experience working in a hairdressing salon in Auckland had informed the book, which Pip explained had motivated her to interrogate the ways in which class and wealth divisions manifest in New Zealand.

In light of Pip’s Ockham prize win, Kirsten was keen to ask Pip for her take on the mixed critical reaction to the novel on its initial release. While both women had little time for certain reviewers’ opinions they were also in agreement that a vital component of fiction writing should be to challenge its audience. On the prize itself, Pip was quick to acknowledge the recognition of the prize- giving panel. The make up of the esteemed panel, she said, made the prize particularly special.

Other subjects up for discussion included how Pip finds time to write amongst her other endeavours (including teaching creative writing in NZ prisons with the Write Where You Are charitable trust), a holistic approach to writing, and optimism for the future of the planet in the hands of the ‘new animals’, a generation Pip sees as engaged with environmental issues and, vitally, unafraid of genuine sentiment.

Questions from the floor followed and many fans had their copies at the ready for signing.

It was a fully multimedia event, with Pip recording the Better Off Read podcast, which you can hear at betterreadnz;

& the very talented Tara Black was on hand providing live sketch reporting of the event.

Ockham NZ Book Awards, Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize winner, Pip Adam!

The fashion game was appropriately strong. Kirsten McDougall loves a collar.

Early arrivals were lucky to snag a seat.

Plenty of good notes to be had.

Pip even answered requests for cat impressions.

Kirsten McDougall asks the tough questions.

An orderly queue was formed.


The New Animals ($30), published by Victoria University Press, is available in store and at Unity Books Online.

Words & photos by John Duke

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