Announcing the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize 2022 winner!

Rachel J Fenton is winner of the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize 2022!

New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) congratulates Rachel J Fenton on winning the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize for new writing with a ‘unique and original vision’, that celebrates the life and work of writer Laura Solomon.

The prize was created by the NZSA and the Solomon family to fulfil the wishes of Laura Solomon, a novelist, poet and playwright who was a longstanding member of NZSA and a beloved member of the Solomon family. The prize awards a publishing contract with The Cuba Press for the winning manuscript, which will be published later in 2022.

This year’s winner Rachel J Fenton is a working-class writer and graphic artist living in Te Waipounamu where she is curator of Janet Frame House. Between the Flags is her first novel for young adults.

Rachel’s manuscript was selected by a panel consisting of Mary McCallum and Sarah Bolland (The Cuba Press), Nicky Solomon (Solomon Family) and panel convenor and award-winning author Tina Shaw. Tina says the judges loved Between The Flags by Rachel J Fenton. “It has a strong, immediate voice that pulls you in, with great writing and a theme about dealing with grief that will appeal to young adult readers. The world of surf lifesaving offers a strong background, while the main character’s drawing of comics adds a contemporary note.”

Nicky Solomon says that judging the short-listed entrants in the second year of this award was a huge pleasure helped by the outstanding calibre of the finalists. I couldn’t put down Between the Flags, and can’t wait until my teenage daughters can read it. Laura would have loved it, and would appreciate its resonance with young women and the myriad issues they face.   It’s a great privilege to be part of this collaborative award alongside the NZSA and The Cuba Press.”

The Cuba Press is thrilled to have signed the second winner for the award named for writer Laura Solomon that was launched last year. Co-directors Mary McCallum and Sarah Bolland say that the young adult novel Between the Flags by Rachel J Fenton has the unique and original vision that were the hallmarks of Laura Solomon’s work and what they are looking for in the prize-winner. Sarah Bolland says, “Between the Flags took my breath away when I read it – as I think it did for all the judging panel – and we are looking forward to working with Rachel to get her book into the world so more people can experience what we did.”

Mary McCallum says,Rachel’s novel has a unique voice and tells a story for young adult readers that deals with the grief of a sibling delivered in a powerful and unexpected way, including comic art. This is just the sort of work we hoped the award would deliver to us and we are grateful to have the support of the NZSA and the Laura Solomon Trust to be able to do it.’

The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa PEN NZ Inc would also like to congratulate the runner-up and third place winners, Philippa Werry and Jacqueline Owens.

This year, a discretionary prize of $1,000 has been offered by the Solomon family to the winner Rachel J Fenton and the runner-up Philippa Werry.

The judges said that Philippa Werry’s manuscript Iris and Me “is a strikingly original story in epic poem form.'”

Philippa Werry is a writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays. Her interest in history has produced titles such as Anzac Day, Best Mates, Waitangi Day, Armistice Day, Lighthouse Family, The New Zealand Wars, The Telegram, The Water Bottle, Quarantine and The Other Sister. 

Her work has also appeared in the School Journal, educational publications and in various anthologies and has been broadcast on radio. Several of her books have been shortlisted for awards and she is a frequent speaker with the Writers in Schools programme.

Award for fresh writing with a ‘unique and original vision’

The NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize celebrates the life and work of the writer Laura Solomon. This prize is judged within the criteria set by Laura Solomon, for new writing with a ‘unique and original vision’. Both published and unpublished writers were invited to enter completed manuscripts written across genres (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, drama or children’s writing). This annual prize was created from a bequest, from Laura and The Solomon Family.

The NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize:

  • paves the way for new and exciting writing to make its way into the marketplace
  • awards the winner a cash award as an ‘advance’ of NZ$1000 and a publishing contract supplied by The Cuba Press
  • pays for the book production and printing. The Cuba Press will edit, design, print, market, distribute and promote the book and e-book and pay standard author royalties.
  • The first year for this prize was 2020, with the inaugral winner (announced in 2021) Lizzie Harwood with Polaroid Nights.

More information about Laura Solomon and the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize

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