Chch book on NZ gangs wins top award

01:59, Aug 29 2013
Jarrod Gilbert
ACCOLADE: Jarrod Gilbert spent 10 years researching and writing his award-winning book.

A Christchurch author who spent 10 years researching New Zealand's criminal underbelly has won a national book award.

First-time author Jarrod Gilbert won the People's Choice award at the New Zealand Post Book Awards last night for Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand.

The book traces the history of New Zealand's gangs since the milkbar cowboys of the 1950s and involved 10 years of research and writing.

More than 5000 copies have been sold since it was published in March, and it has proved so popular with thieves that bookshops were forced to keep the book behind the counter.

"Now, I'm not sure if they give awards for New Zealand's most stolen book, but if they do, I reckon I'm in with a shot, " Gilbert told The Press last month.

He had also been nominated for the General Non-Fiction category, which was won by Steve Braunias for his book Civilisation: Twenty Places on the Edge of the World.

Fellow Christchurch writer Geoff Spearpoint also won an award at last night's ceremony in Auckland.

Spearpoint took out the Nielsen Booksellers' Choice category for Shelter from the Storm: The Story of New Zealand's Backcountry Huts, which he co-wrote with Wellington's Shaun Barnett and Rob Brown.

Wellington-born writer Kirsty Gunn took out the top award this year for her fictional tale The Big Music.

The novel was described by the judges as being "as big as the music at its heart".

Chief Judge John Campbell said the story was a "wonderful literary achievement" in a year where finalists went the extra distance for their books.

"Gunn searches for and attempts big things, and fully achieves them. She has a bright future and I'm excited about what lies ahead for her," he said.

The judges considered more than 180 books this year, but were in clear agreement about each of the winners who they felt "showed a vibrant ability to transport their readers into a whole new world".

FULL LIST OF WINNERS:

Book of the Year and Fiction winner: The Big Music, by Kirsty Gunn (Faber & Faber)

Poetry: The Darling North, by Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press)

Illustrated Non-Fiction: Pat Hanly, by Gregory O'Brien and Gil Hanly, (Ron Sang Publications)

General Non-Fiction: Civilisation: Twenty Places on the Edge of the World, by Steve Braunias (Awa Press)

Nielsen Booksellers' Choice: Shelter from the Storm: The Story of New Zealand's Backcountry Huts, by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown, Geoff Spearpoint (Craig Potton Publishing)

People's Choice: Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand, by Jarrod Gilbert (AUP)

AWARDS ALREADY ANNOUNCED:

Maori Language Award: Nga Waituhi O Rehua, by Katarina Te Heikoko Mataira (Huia Publishing)

NZSA Best First Book - Poetry: Graft, by Helen Heath (Victoria University Press). Fiction: I Got His Blood On Me, by Lawrence Patchett (VUP). Non-Fiction: Moa: The Life and Death of New Zealand's Legendary Bird, Quinn Berentson (Craig Potton Publishing)

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