Congratulations to all the winners at the Montana Book Awards last night. My favourite for the fiction medal came out on top - Emily Perkins' Novel About My Wife - but as I have confessed elsewhere, it is the only one I have actually read, so I am a little biased. It is such a well crafted novel and a gripping story - the two things that, when combined, make me love a book. All too often the two seem to be mutually exclusive.
This is the last year that Montana wines will be sponsoring the awards, and next year, with NZ Post on board, the awards are getting an overhaul. For the better I hope! My only suggestions for improving them are as follows:
1. Please get rid of the runners-up for the fiction award. This is a literary award, not Miss World. I don't really see the point, other than making the two authors who didn't get a place feel stink.
2. Open up the Readers' Choice award to all NZ books published that year, not just the ones on the shortlist. I think the winner this year was very apt (Kate DeGoldi's The 10 PM Question), as it has clearly been a popular book, but other years I think it's been a bit mean-spirited, and some good books that have reached many readers have missed out because they are not 'literary' enough. I'm thinking of authors like Jenny Pattrick and perhaps some genre fiction writers - this is their one chance to get recognised as we don't have separate genre awards as they do in other countries. I think it's fine to leave those books out of the finalists for a literary award, but open them up for the Readers' Choice award and let them compete with the literary heavyweights. Go on.
My two cents.