Announcing the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize 2023 shortlist

We are pleased to announce that five writers have been shortlisted for an award that celebrates fresh writing with a ‘unique and original vision’.

NZSA congratulates shortlisted writers Susanna Elliffe, Melanie Kwang, Wes Lee, Lee Murray, and Kathryn van Beek.

58 applications came in for this prize and the shortlist judging panel of Tina Shaw and Cassie Hart had a hard decision to make: “The applicants for this year’s NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize again showed a huge range of inspiring and talented use of genres and styles. This made the selection of a shortlist both exciting and challenging as Cassie and I read applications that ran the gamut of literary forms. We’re pleased to be able to offer a shortlist of five dynamic manuscripts that fulfil Laura’s brief of being ‘unique and original’.
The shortlisted entries now go to the final judging panel to decide on the winner, who will be announced in June.

The co-directors of The Cuba Press, Sarah Bolland and Mary McCallum, are excited to be in the third year of NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize and to see again the range of writers and writing it has attracted. “In the finalists we have work that embraces short stories and creative non-fiction, poems and prose poems, and there’s even an adult gamebook,” says Mary. “It’s wonderful that work like this can find a space to shine thanks to the generosity of the late Laura Solomon and her family. Laura herself was a wildly imaginative writer whose work could cross genres and she knew how hard it was sometimes to find a home for work like that in Aotearoa.”

She says the first two winners, Polaroid Nights by Lizzie Harwood and Between the Flags by Rachel Fenton are books The Cuba Press is proud to have published, and they couldn’t have done it without the support of NZSA and the Laura Solomon Trust.  They’re also delighted to have published last year’s runner-up Iris and Me by Philippa Werry.  Mary and Sara are looking forward to getting stuck into reading the manuscripts over the Easter break.

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 Both published and unpublished writers were invited to enter completed manuscripts written across genres (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, drama or children’s writing).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. Previous winners are Lizzie Harwood (Polaroid Nights 2021), and Rachel J Fenton (Between the Flags 2022).

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

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