Allen & Unwin NZ announces winner of 2023 Fiction Prize: Strawhan’s The Call

Allen & Unwin New Zealand is delighted to announce that the winner of our 2023 Fiction Prize is Auckland TV writer, show runner and executive producer, Gavin Strawhan.

His entry, The Call, is a taut, superbly plotted crime novel – set in rural coastal New Zealand and featuring a complex protagonist – with a shocking ending.


This year we received more than 80 manuscripts, ranging from historical fiction to crime, contemporary, dystopian and romance novels. While there were several strong contenders, the judges were unanimous that The Call was the standout winner.

The Call will be published next year. Along with being awarded a publishing contract, Gavin receives an advance against royalties of $10,000.

Gavin Strawhan says, ‘When I was told I had won, I tried to be cool, but who am I trying to kid? It feels amazing.  I’m very grateful to the judges to have my work acknowledged in this way, and to be given the opportunity to be published. It’s been a lifelong dream.’

The prize was launched in 2021 to encourage strong fiction writing in New Zealand. The prize is open to all unpublished full-length manuscripts in the fiction genre between 70,000 and 100,000 words in length, written by citizens and residents of New Zealand. Both debut and already-published authors are eligible to enter.

The inaugural winner of the Allen & Unwin NZ Fiction Prize was Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts by Josie Shapiro, published in May 2023. Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts has been a critical and commercial success and has remained on the top 10 bestseller list since publication in May. It was described as ‘a sparkling debut novel’ and ‘a triumph’ by reviewers. It has been reprinted three times and French rights have been sold. Josie Shapiro is now working on a second novel to be published by Allen & Unwin NZ.

The Allen & Unwin NZ Fiction Prize 2024 will be open for entries from 1 October 2023 and will close on 31 March 2024.

For regular updates and details on how to enter, go to our and follow Allen & Unwin NZ on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Judges notes on The Call by Gavin Strawhan

‘A hugely exciting discovery and the unanimous winner of the Allen & Unwin NZ Fiction Prize 2023, The Call is a cleverly plotted crime novel, featuring a complex female protagonist, Detective Sergeant Honey Chalmers. Superbly executed, with nuanced characters, taut and effective writing that propels the narrative, and a killer ending, The Call is a compulsive read.’

About Allen & Unwin New Zealand

Allen & Unwin New Zealand was named Publisher of the Year in 2023, 2020, 2018 and 2016. Allen & Unwin publishes a huge range of bestselling local and international fiction authors including Jodi Picoult, Michael Connelly, Ben Sanders, Charity Norman, Rose Carlyle, Megan Nicol Reed, Josie Shapiro, Claire Baylis and Jacqueline Bublitz.  While we are based in New Zealand, we are international in our thinking, with offices in Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and London, a global network of connected partners, and a local list that is unrivalled in scope and quality.

About Gavin Strawhan

Gavin Strawhan is a creator, writer, show runner and executive producer of many New Zealand and international TV shows.

Most recently he wrote Testify, a five-part series for Warner Bros NZ. He wrote Black Hands, a true-life drama, also for Warner Bros NZ. He was co-creator of Bad Mothers for Channel 9 Australia and was co-creator and show runner of Hyde & Seek, an eight-part thriller which also screened on Channel 9.  Gavin was co-creator and writer on two series of Filthy Rich (winner of best drama at the 2019 Seoul International TV awards) for Filthy Productions. He wrote the historical telemovies What Really Happened – Votes for Women and What Really Happened – Waitangi. Gavin co-created the hit television shows Go Girls and Nothing Trivial (for which he won best script, New York film and television awards) and was show runner and writer of the critically acclaimed mystery thriller This Is Not My Life.

He was co-writer of the feature film Matariki (directed by Michael Bennett), which was selected for Toronto and released in 2010. He created and wrote Being Eve (finalist for an international Emmy, winner of NY gold medal) and UK CBBC series Living It. His other credits include: Kaitangata Twitch, Burying Brian, Maddigan’s Quest, Mercy Peak, The Chosen, Jackson’s Wharf and the Lawless telemovies.

Gavin worked on Shortland Street from 1992—1995 as its first script editor, head writer, then producer.

Gavin lives in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and this will be his first book.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.