NZ writers defy trend says medal winner

Literature researcher Lydia Wevers, who was awarded a Royal Society of New Zealand medal last night for her career-long ...
KENT BLECHYNDEN

Literature researcher Lydia Wevers, who was awarded a Royal Society of New Zealand medal last night for her career-long promotion of the study of literature, history and culture.

Kiwi writers are producing more work than ever before, in defiance of dire warnings about the future of the book-publishing industry.

That is the message from literature researcher Lydia Wevers, who was awarded a Royal Society of New Zealand medal last night for her career-long promotion of the study of literature, history and culture.

"In the world of New Zealand fiction writing, there's just a lot more of it than there used to be," said Wevers, a professor at Victoria University. "That's partly due to writing courses. Lots of people come and do MAs and PhDs and produce novels and other things. I think there's a much more energetic culture of writing."

Wevers said another boon for the writing scene was Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Prize win last year.

"Every time we win the Booker Prize - all two times we've won it - it really gives us an international profile and it means that people are more likely to have a crack at reading something from New Zealand. That's been fantastic."

Her fascination with literature is that it offers a rare glimpse into the inner minds of Kiwi societies, both now and in the past.

Her nomination alone, as well as the win, was a delight, she said. "I was sort of thrilled and gobsmacked."

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 - The Dominion Post

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