Eleanor Catton makes NZ Book Awards shortlist

UP FOR ANOTHER ACCOLADE: Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton.
UP FOR ANOTHER ACCOLADE: Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton.

The reckoning for New Zealand's finest literature is approaching, and it would be surprising if Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries didn't triumph.

Catton's magnum opus is one of 16 books short-listed for the annual New Zealand Post Book Awards.

The country's pre-eminent publishing accolade received 150 entries from New Zealand authors this year.

Other finalists include Lloyd Jones' A History of Silence, Charlotte Randall's The Bright Side of My Condition and Rebecca Macfie's Tragedy at Pike River Mine.

The finalists were spread across four categories: fiction, general non-fiction, illustrated non-fiction and poetry.

The winner of each category will receive $10,000. One of these will be named the overall Book of the Year and receive an additional $15,000.

The finalists were selected by a panel chaired by TVNZ presenter Miriama Kamo. It included artist Dick Frizzell, Radio New Zealand broadcaster Kim Hill, poet Elizabeth Smither and literary critic Peter Simpson.

No formal criteria guided the selection process, rather, the group applied their collective experience, Kamo said.

The judges said the short-listed books "captured the essence of the country's psyche - not just in place and people, but by capturing what makes us tick as New Zealanders".

The judges have already decided on the winners, who will be announced at a ceremony at Wellington's Te Papa Museum on August 23.

"I have absolutely no doubt that we have chosen the best books," Kamo said.

Did the other books ever stand a chance against The Luminaries?

"That book came with such high expectations, which in some ways might have served it well and in other ways might not have, it's hard to say," Kamo said.

"Obviously, it's a very deserving finalist."

New Zealand authors may stand a better chance in the People's Choice or Nielsen Bookseller's Choice awards. The public and booksellers can vote for their favourite Kiwi-authored books in the awards.

The People's Choice winner will receive $5000, while the Bookseller's Choice winner will receive $2500.

Unsurprisingly, Catton is also a finalist for the latter.

The finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014, by category, are:

The 16 finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards were selected from 150 entries by New Zealand authors vying for the country's pre-eminent publishing accolade.

- The Bright Side of my Condition by Charlotte Randall, Penguin Books
- The Last Days of the National Costume by Anne Kennedy, Allen & Unwin
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Victoria University Press
- Max Gate by Damien Wilkins, Victoria University Press

- Gathering Evidence by Caoilinn Hughes, Victoria University Press
- Heartland by Michele Leggott, Auckland University Press
- Horse with Hat by Marty Smith, Victoria University Press
- Us, then by Vincent O'Sullivan, Victoria University Press

Illustrated Non-fiction
- Coast: A New Zealand journey by Bruce Ansley & Jane Ussher, Random House NZ (Godwit)
- Greer Twiss: Sculptor by Greer Twiss, Dr Robin Woodward & Haru Sameshima, Ron Sang Publications
- New Zealand and the First World War 1914-1919 by Damien Fenton, Penguin Books in association with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage
- Promoting Prosperity: The art of early New Zealand advertising by Peter Alsop and Gary Stewart, Craig Potton Publishing 

General Non-fiction
- A History of Silence by Lloyd Jones, Penguin Books
- Peter McLeavey: The life and times of a New Zealand art dealer by Jill Trevelyan, Te Papa Press
- The Mighty Totara: The life and times of Norman Kirk by David Grant, Random House NZ
- Tragedy at Pike River Mine by Rebecca Macfie, Awa Press

Nielsen Booksellers' Choice
- Beyond the State: New Zealand state houses from modest to modern, by Bill McKay, Andrea Stevens & Simon Devitt, Penguin Books
- Molesworth: Stories from New Zealand's largest high-country station by Harry Broad and Rob Suisted, Craig Potton Publishing
- The Beginner's Guide to Hunting and Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson, Random House NZ
- The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Victoria University Press