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Winners announced at this year's Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

New Zealand writer Catherine Chidgey has taken home first place at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards held in Auckland last night. 

Catherine Chidgey won the nation's biggest writing prize for The Wish Child. Source: Breakfast

The Ngaruawahia resident was named the winner of the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize for her fourth novel, 'The Wish Child'.

She received $50,000 in prize money. 

The Wish Child, set in 1939, covers the story of German families caught up in a nation's dream. It was published in November by Victoria University Press. 

Chidgey is also known for her previous works; Golden Deeds, The Transformation, The Strength of the Sun, and In a Fishbone Church. 

The judging panel consisting of Peter Wells, Bronwyn Wylie Gibb, Jill Rawnsley and Canadian writer Madleine Thien, selected Chidgey on the grounds that her book "exposes and celebrates the power of words - so dangerous they must be cut out or shredded, so magical they can be wondered at and conjured with". 

Additional winners from the evening included Paris-based Andrew Johnston who won the Poetry category for his collection 'Fits & Starts', a book described by the category's judge as "a slow-burning tour de force". Mr Johnston took home $10,000. 

Dunedin writer and historian Barbara Brookes won the Illustrated Non-Fiction category for her meticulously document work 'A History of New Zealand Women', while Wellington's Ashleigh Young won The Royal Society Te Aparangi Award for General Non-Fiction for her collection of personal essays 'Can You Tolerate This?'. 

Four first-time winners were also rewarded for their efforts, each earing $2,500.

Winners in the Best Book Award category included; Ngarino Ellis for 'A Whakapapa of Tradition: 100 Years of Ngati Porou Carving, 1830 - 1930, with new photography by Natalie Robertson', Adam Dudding for 'My Father's Island: A Memoir', Gina Cole for 'Black Ice Matter', and Hera Lindsay Bird for 'Hera Lindsay Bird'. 

Tuesday night's award ceremony has also doubled as the first public event of this year's Auckland Writers Festival. 


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