Wellington writer wins top award

19:36, May 22 2011
Craig Cliff
Craig Cliff was last night named the recipient of the Commonwealth Writers Prize best first book award.

Wellington writer Craig Cliff, who juggles his passion with a day-job as a bureaucrat, has won a prestigious literary award.

Cliff, who writes a fortnightly column for Your Weekend in the Dominion Post, was last night named the recipient of the Commonwealth Writers Prize best first book award, with judges nsaying he was set to take the literary world by storm.

The award was given for his collection of short stories, A Man Melting, published by Vintage last year.

Cliff was getting up at 5am each day to write before heading to work at the Ministry of Education as a policy analyst. But from the start of this month cut back to two days per week at the ministry in order to concentrate on writing.

''I wouldn't want to ditch the day job completely just yet,'' he said today. "I enjoy the job too much and it's great to get out of the office and out of my own head at least two days a week - and get paid.''

The judges described his collection as highly entertaining and thought provoking and said it was selected for its "ambition, creativity and craftsmanship''.

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"Confidently blending ideas that frequently weave outlandish concepts with everyday incidents, the prose is skilfully peppered with social observations that define the world we live in.''

They said his book was "of the moment, and is rightly at home on a global platform''.

''Cliff is a talent to watch and set to take the literary world by storm.''

In a Dominion Post column earlier this year Cliff wrote: My double life - public servant by day and writer in my spare time - had become more like a one-and-a-quarter- life. I had no energy left on evenings and weekends to devote to writing and found it harder to flick the switch between public policy and fiction (believe it or not, they do differ).

Today he said the win would hopefully open up doors to new markets for his book. ''So few first timers get a break like this so I'm feeling very blessed right now.''

The Dominion Post