Being a bookshop that likes to keep its finger on the pulse of everything going on in the New Zealand literary world, Unity Books Wellington was thrilled to host an event for the winners of the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary awards on October 24th, the day after the award ceremony. Host Paul Diamond was joined by the starry collection of winners – Jock Phillips (non-fiction), Jack Lasenby (fiction) and Ian Wedde (poetry) as well as 2014 Michael King Fellowship recipient Elizabeth Knox.
There were readings about first experiences with alcohol and tales of literary trysts and scandals; both Elizabeth and Ian spoke on their evolving perception of mothers as time goes by for both parent and child. Whether from writers of fiction, poetry or non-fiction, everything on the day seemed to hark back to personal experiences and the way in which they are shared through their respective narratives – whether or not it is told with a little imaginative fictional flair.
Paul Diamond wove together descriptions and introductions of the all the authors through references to relevant Te Ara articles – pointing out that it was both appropriate and bittersweet timing, given that Jock Phillips has just retired from the project. The readings and chatter kept the audience engaged (both laughing and glassy-eyed, depending on the moment) for the full forty-five minutes, but all participants stayed to speak with readers one-on-one and to sign books for those who couldn’t make it in person.
One thing is certain, regardless of genre or format – these stalwarts of the New Zealand literary scene are more than deserving of their most recent recognition, and we are excited to see what all four of them bring to the table next.
Photography © Matt Bialostocki, review by Briar Lawry