Courageous, risk-taking young writers lead the pack in this year's NZ Post Book Awards.
Chief judge and Campbell Live presenter John Campbell said he was blown away by the strength of this year's 185 eligible books.
Three finalists were first-time authors, including fiction writer Gigi Fenster and Wellington poet Sarah Jane Barnett. Barnett funded her book A Man Runs into a Woman through crowd-funding website PledgeMe.'
Her piece on prisoners awaiting their execution "could easily be mawkish and sentimental, written in a heavy-handed, clumsy embarrassing way," Campbell said.
"But it's vivid and real and so brave."
Barnett was one of a collection of writers in their 20s and 30s who were taking risks in their writing, often through smaller publishing houses, he said.
"I just feel like these young writers are incredibly brave.
"Literature is not baby food, it doesn't have to appeal to everyone. "
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Auckland on August 28.
Poetry: A Man Runs into a Woman by Sarah Jane Barnett (Wellington); Snow White's Coffin by Kate Camp (Wellington); The Darling North by Anne Kennedy (Wellington, now based in Hawaii); The Lifeguard: Poems 2008 - 2013 by Ian Wedde (Auckland)
Fiction: The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn (Wellington, now based in UK); In the Absence of Heroes by Anthony McCarten (New Plymouth, now in UK); The Forrests by Emily Perkins (Wellington); The Intentions Book by Gigi Fenster (Wellington)
Illustrated non-fiction: His Own Steam: The Work of Barry Brickell by David Craig, Gregory O'Brien and Haruhiko Sameshima (Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland); Pat Hanly by Gregory O'Brien and Gil Hanly (Wellington and Auckland); Selling the Dream: the art of early New Zealand tourism by Peter Alsop, Dave Bamford and Gary Stewart (Wellington); Stag Spooner: Wild man from the bush by Chris Maclean (Wellington)
General non-fiction: Civilisation: Twenty Places on the Edge of the World by Steve Braunias (Auckland); Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand by Jarrod Gilbert (Christchurch); The Meeting Place: Māori and Pakeha Encounters, 1642-1840 by Vincent O'Malley (Wellington); The Search for Anne Perry by Joanne Drayton (Auckland)
Nielsen Booksellers' Choice: Big House, Small House: New Houses by New Zealand Architects by John Walsh and Patrick Reynolds (Auckland); Buller's Birds of New Zealand: The Complete Work of JG Keulemans by Geoff Norman (Wellington); Moa: The life and death of New Zealand's legendary bird by Quinn Berentson (Dunedin); Shelter from the Storm: the story of New Zealand's backcountry huts by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown and Geoff Spearpoint (Wellington and Christchurch)
New Zealand Post Book Awards Māori Language Award Winner: Nga Waituhi O Rehua by Dame Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira (Tokomaru Bay).