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Announcing the shortlist for the 2021 Michael Gifkins Prize

Text Publishing and the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) are excited to announce the shortlist for the 2021 Michael Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Novel. This year’s shortlist consists of three outstanding manuscripts:

Paper Cage by Tom Baragwanath
Light Keeping by Adrienne Jansen
Landed by Sue McCauley

The winning writer will be awarded a contract for world rights from Text, and an advance to the value of NZ$10,000. The winner will be announced in September alongside the publication of the 2020 winner, A Good Winter by Gigi Fenster.

Tom Baragwanath’s Paper Cage is a gripping literary thriller about abducted children, a community in crisis – and a woman who may have to balance one against the other. Tom Baragwanath is a writer originally from Masterton, New Zealand, currently living in Paris. His short fiction has appeared in Headland, Amarillo Bay, Takahē, The Menteur, and elsewhere. He completed Paper Cage during his Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Kent in 2020.

Adrienne Jansen’s Light Keeping is a stunning and emotional portrayal of five generations of a grief-stricken family whose lives revolve around the disappearing profession of lighthouse keeping. Adrienne Jansen is a teacher and founded the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme. She is also a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Most of her time currently goes into Landing Press, a small press which publishes accessible poetry.

Sue McCauley’s Landed is the sharp, incisive story of a woman who must rebuild her life after her husband’s suicide amidst a backdrop of political and social upheaval in 1980s New Zealand. Sue McCauley has spent most of her adult years either writing or mentoring writers. She has written drama for radio, TV and stage, worked as a journalist and columnist, and published five novels, two short story collections, and one non-fiction book. She has won awards for fiction and radio drama.

This year’s shortlist was selected by Text Publishing from an impressive longlist of twelve high- quality manuscripts curated by New Zealand writers Dr Paula Morris and Vanda Symon. The judges said: ‘The three finalists are all strong on story, character and atmosphere, taking us from lighthouses to police stations to city flats, from mysteries and accidents to political battles and family conflicts. We’re delighted to see such strong contemporary novel manuscripts from writers both emerging and well known.’

Previous winners of the Gifkins Prize have included Ruby Porter, Tom Remiger and Gigi Fenster, whose literary thriller A Good Winter is slated for publication in September of 2021.

The Gifkins Prize is made possible by a generous financial commitment from the Gifkins family and from Text Publishing. It is administered by the NZ Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc). Entries for the 2022 prize will open in late July.

For administration and media enquiries, please contact:

Sophie Mannix
Text Publishing

Jenny Nagle
New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc)
+64 27 627 2728


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