Charlotte Grimshaw

Charlotte Grimshaw is an award-winning New Zealand novelist, short story writer, columnist and reviewer. She is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels, Provocation, Guilt, Foreign City, The Night Book, Soon, Starlight Peninsula and Mazarine, and two short story collections, Opportunity and Singularity. She has been awarded the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship, has won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award and the Book Council Six Pack Prize. Her story collection Opportunity was shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Opportunity won New Zealand's premier Montana award for fiction, along with the Montana medal. She was also the Montana Book Reviewer of the year. Her story collection Singularity was shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the South East Asia and Pacific section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize.  She wrote a monthly column in Metro magazine for eight years, which won a Qantas Media Award. The Night Book was one of the three fiction finalists in the New Zealand Post Book Awards. She was named Reviewer of the Year at the 2018 Voyager Media Awards. She was named Reviewer of the Year at the 2019 Voyager Media Awards. Charlotte Grimshaw currently reviews for NZ Listener and The Spinoff. Her Listener reviews can be found at Her Spinoff reviews can be found at The Spinoff.

Grimshaw's novel Soon, was published in the UK by Jonathan Cape in 2013 and by Anansi in Canada and the United States. Her novel Starlight Peninsula was published in 2015, and her new novel, Mazarine, was published in April 2018. A TV series, The Bad Seed has been developed from two of her novels, The Night Book and Soon. Charlotte Grimshaw is a literary advisor to the Grimshaw Sargeson Trust, which administers the Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship, a grant for New Zealand writers funded by Auckland law firm Grimshaw & Co.

Grimshaw's memoir, The Mirror Book, will be published by Penguin Random House in April 2021

Charlotte Grimshaw lives in Auckland.


  • Adult Fiction
  • Feature Articles
  • Fiction
  • Review Writing


  • Competition Judging
  • Journalism
  • Novelist
  • Print Media Writing (magazines/newspapers)
  • Public Speaking
  • Readings
  • Readings (adults)
  • Reviews
  • Short Story Writing







During the long summer holiday, the Lampton and Hallwright families gather in a large beach house belonging to Prime Minister David Hallwright and his wife Roza. The weather is perfect and outwardly all is well, but the harmony is disturbed when Simon Lampton’s brother arrives for a visit. Ford casts a cold eye over the company, barely disguising his contempt for David Hallwright. To add to Simon’s discomfort a young man called Arthur Weeks makes contact, asking about his secret past affair, and Roza begins to tell her small son Johnnie a continuous story about a group of fantasy creatures – a story that contains uncomfortable parallels with their current lives. When Simon agrees to meet secretly with Arthur Weeks, the result will threaten the security of them all.

Charlotte Grimshaw’s exhilaratingly gripping and clever narrative traces the lives of its beautiful people – ‘moral imbeciles’ in Ford’s words – as they jostle for position in their leader’s court. This humane and capacious novel, generous and faithful to its characters in ways that they are not to each other, articulates the ancient idea that to be moral is an act of consciousness, an effort of will.
“ A sly masterly novel ”

Literary Review

“ Full of delicious satire, Grimshaw is much lauded in New Zealand and should have entered the British consciousness long ago. ”

Carla McKay, Daily Mail

“ The unsettling juxtaposition of urbanity and blood-letting that characterises Grimshaw's other fiction keeps things edgy and jumpy here ”

New Zealand Herald

“ Grimshaw cleverly depicts a series of power struggles as her characters seek to manipulate each other, forcing the reader to question their motives. ”

Anna-Maria Ssemuyaba, Times Literary Supplement

The Night Book

Shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Book Award for fiction

Award-winning writer Charlotte Grimshaw has turned her unflinching eye on contemporary New Zealand society in this intricate and elegant novel.

Sharp, moving, brimming with insight and observation, The Night Book is at once a meditation on power and politics, and an intensely humane look at the choices people make as they struggle, against the odds, to maintain love and integrity in their lives.

'It was this contemplation of the future that made Roza frightened, and that caused her to turn her mind, as she did now, harried and nervous, to the past. And then there was the question of Simon Lampton.'

Roza Hallwright leads a quiet, orderly life, working at her publishing job each day, returning home to the large, comfortable house she shares with her politician husband David and her two stepchildren. But this peaceful existence is about to be changed forever. In the next few months there will be an election, and, if the polls are correct, Roza will become the Prime Minister's wife. She has faced the prospect with relative calm, but a chance encounter with party donor Simon Lampton sparks a chain of consequences that will bring turmoil to both their lives.
Charlotte Grimshaw is writing some of the smartest fiction around. ”

Philip Matthews, Dominion Post

“ I rate Charlotte Grimshaw as the most important, significant and arrestingly talented of our middle year writers. I finished The Night Book with regret and am now delighted that she is continuing some of its story lines. ”

Christine Cole Catley

“ A brilliant take on society. The Night Book’s got so much going for it; narrative drive, pace, suspense and beautifully controlled seamless writing . . . Quite brilliant. ”

Nelson Mail

“ This penetrating novel treads perfectly the divide between fact and fiction. ”

Sunday Star-Times

“ A swiftly-paced, complex novel . . . We can look forward to seeing where Grimshaw goes from here. ”

Otago Daily Times

Starlight Peninsula

The latest enthralling novel from the author of The Night Book and Soon.
Eloise Hay lives on the Starlight Peninsula. Every weekday she travels into the city to work at Q TV Studio, assisting with the production of a current affairs show. One night she receives a phone call that will change her life forever.

Thrown into the turmoil of a sudden marriage break-up, Eloise begins to perceive that a layer of the world has been hidden from her. Seeking answers, she revisits a traumatic episode from her past, and in doing so encounters an odd-eyed policewoman, a charismatic obstetrician, a German psychotherapist, and a flamboyant internet pirate wanted by the United States Government. Each of these characters will reveal something about the life of Eloise Hay, answering questions that she hasn’t, until now, had the courage to ask.

Tracing the lines that run through our society, from the interior life of one lonely young woman to the top tier of influence in the country, Charlotte Grimshaw’s powerful novel demonstrates how little separates us and how close we really are: rich and poor, famous and hidden, virtuous and criminal.

“ It’s thrilling for me to see the things that seem so wrong in this country coolly reflected in these books. The lack of outrage is also refreshing: any political agenda feels like it belongs to the characters, not the author. The books act like a mirror, perhaps the most powerful tool at this political moment of shouting and polling. The mirror won’t argue, can’t argue, just shows. The other thrill of these books, and Starlight Peninsula in particular, is the craft of storytelling. . . some of the most thrilling and nail-biting reading I've done. ”

Pip Adam, Metro


"Mazarine is hugely compelling and beautifully written." - Jane Parkin

Longlisted for the Ockham Book award for fiction

From award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw, this is a beautifully evocative, sensual portrayal of a woman’s search for freedom and love.

When her daughter vanishes during a heatwave in Europe, writer Frances Sinclair embarks on a hunt that takes her across continents and into her own past. What clues can Frances find in her own history, and who is the mysterious Mazarine? Following the narrative thread left by her daughter, she travels through cities touched by terrorism and surveillance, where ways of relating are subtly changed, and a startling new fiction seems to be constructing itself.

"Grimshaw's novels always deliver tension, intrigue, drama. Her stories are contemporary...and packed with plot. Serious doesn't mean po-faced though. Mazarine bristles with life and is full of sensations, humour, rippling interchanges and sudden poetry... It comments on society, not gauchely, but in passing glances and subtle asides. Grimshaw cares about the world we live in and asks us to care, too." - The New Zealand Listener

"Reading Charlotte Grimshaw is always a huge delight, sinking as she does into a place of implication, indirectness and suggestions of the sinister. With her multiple storylines and layers, as well as the intensity and paranoia of her characters, Grimshaw's work often strays into David Lynch-type territory... Mazarine ups the psychological layers of content into an extremely confusing place, where characters and their motivations are contradictory, unsure and yet persistent....Doctorow's epigraph states that every time a writer composes a book, their composition of themselves is at stake...Grimshaw is always unnerving as she digs into what it might be to lose someone else, or even to lose oneself." - The Otago Daily Times

"At once domestic drama, psychological thriller - underscored with a buzzing note of menace about global terrorism and the surveillance state - and a sort of sensual coming-of-age tale, Grimshaw picks and chooses which tropes from each style to use and which to let lie. It's a brilliant and disconcerting strategy....The story is always fleshed out by Grimshaw's sensory and finely detailed sketches of people and place....whether her writing is prophetic or she's just really quick on the draw at spinning it into her novels, the parallels between the politics of her characters' personal lives and the politics playing out on a global scale is where Grimshaw's genius lies. There is much justified love for the New Zealand political satire of her earlier novels, along with their familiar cast of recurring characters, but by flinging Mazarine's cast onto the world stage, she forces them into confrontation with our current preoccupations: tyrants around the dinner table and in parliament, fake news inside our heads and out - trying to figure out who we should be in a world where truth and reality seem less certain than ever before. " - Charlotte Graham-McLay The Spinoff

"There's an air of ambiguous menace right from the start of Mazarine. More worrying than the chance encounter, Frances's daughter, Maya, travelling on the other side of the globe, has lost contact with her mother. The increasingly lengthy silence becomes increasingly worrying for Frances... In her customary deft prose, Grimshaw unspools this dryly ironic tale of international connections and the threads that bind us all through the intimate labyrinth the world has become. The themes weave in and out of the action seamlessly..." - North & South

"In an era where ‘fake’ news creates a sense of ongoing insecurity about what’s real and what isn’t, Grimshaw exploits this by having, at the core of her novel, not only a novel-writing narrator who is unreliable, but a semi-intrusive author. . . . Grimshaw is playing with what literature can and cannot do. She is reminding us that fiction is always a lie, a story told that asks you to suspend disbelief. . . . I was left marvelling, not only at Grimshaw’s ferocious talent, but at her gall, her audaciousness, her mischievous ability to play with a reader’s expectations of fiction. Nothing is set up that can’t be kicked sideways. Paradox, smoke and mirrors, equivocation: things are not what they seem. And there’s always that feeling that there’s a sly joke at the heart of it. . . . This is an intensely readable, indeed engrossing, very filmic novel. It’s very likely to be prize-winning…. While its message is that we’re living in times of great chaos, the novel mirroring this exists as a terrifying, memorable whole. I ended it feeling like a pathetic, panting puppy, my brain an unwelcome tangle. I applaud someone with the talent of the redoubtable Grimshaw, playing in a most timely manner with what is fiction and what isn’t." - Linda Burgess, Landfall

"Award winning author Charlotte Grimshaw is a wonderful descriptive writer... This is a complex read, in which the author touches on many modern issues, brining them together in a gripping novel which has enough mystery to keep the reader guessing until the end. " - Booksellers NZ

" a writer she is constantly reworking the narrative of her life into fiction and questioning the nature of truth and reality...Grimshaw's dialogue expertly captures the hidden patterns of everyday conversation, and she evokes mood and place brilliantly, from a rain-lashed, wintry Auckland to stifling heat in central London... Following her can be a confusing journey, but the high quality of Grimshaw's writing makes it worth the effort. " - NZ Herald

"Mazarine is an ambitious novel, if only because it is being asked to bear an awful lot of weight. Only a writer of Grimshaw’s ability could pull it off: she is an effortless prose writer, a superb manager of narrative." - New Zealand Books Quarterly Review


Winner of the Montana Book Award for Fiction.

Winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction

Shortlisted for The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award

A prize-winning and innovative collection of connected short stories.

"You could look back after a long time and ask, who wanted what from whom?"

A man confronts death after an operation, a devout Christian encounters a man who hurt her long ago, a secretary uncovers her boss's secret shame. And in a house in Auckland an elderly woman is writing the last book of her life, one which, she says, contains all of her crimes. How are the characters connected and who is writing the stories? Each of these astute stories is an inspection of motive, rich in vivid insight into a diverse range of lives. Together, they form a unified whole.

Opportunity is a book about storytelling, about generosity and opportunism; above all it is a celebration of the subtleties of human impulses, of what Katherine Mansfield called the LIFE of life.

Frank O'Conner Short Story Award

Montana New Zealand Book Awards

Montana Medal for Book of the Year


Published across the world and shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Prize.

Award-winning Charlotte Grimshaw's remarkable collection of intertwined short stories.

Richly detailed, vivid with local colour, each story in this book is an inspection of human motive and of the complex ties that bind five principal characters together. The stories cover a wide range of territory, from childhood innocence to adult desperation, from the depths of poverty to cushioned affluence, from London to Los Angeles, Ayers Rock in Australia to the black sand beaches of New Zealand's wild west coast.

The stories can be read as discrete pieces, yet each contributes to a unifying narrative, which also links back to her previous work Opportunity and forward to her subsequent works, The Night Book and Soon. Both Singularity and Opportunity were shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Prize, and the latter won New Zealand's premier award for fiction, the 2008 Montana Book Award.

Foreign City

A teasing, clever and compelling read.

Intricately plotted, this novel explores different kinds of fictions, infidelity and dangerous freedoms.

Anna Devine, a young New Zealand painter living in London, has two chance encounters that set her on a search for answers. Can she really 'see' her new city properly? Can she reconcile family life and art? Her search leads her into past mysteries of her troubled family and her brother's death, and towards future complexities: infidelity, dangerous freedoms, and a whole new eye on her foreign city.

In Auckland, in another time, Justine Devantier is reading a novel in order to find out about its author - and possibly about herself.

And in a fictional city a man looks for a woman he knew long ago.

At the core of this intricate plot is British novelist Richard Black, who may hold the strands that bind all the protagonists together. Grimshaw's brilliantly drawn characters walk through her foreign cities in different guises. She gives us a 'true' story, a fiction, a love story, a story of family connections lost and f

The Bad Seed

Now combined into a major TV drama, these two connected novels by award-winning writer Charlotte Grimshaw take an unflinching look at politics and power, contemporary New Zealand society and the arid morality of the privileged. 

"There is no denying that Charlotte Grimshaw deserves her place amongst the top New Zealand writers of fiction. Her writing is sparse: words are not wasted. Characters are deftly penned and well-defined: each one can be imagined, liked or disliked. Settings are vividly described often in poetic imagery"

Booksellers New Zealand

The Mirror Book, a memoir

The Mirror Book, a memoir 

Brave, explosive, and thought-provoking, this is a powerful memoir from a critically acclaimed writer.

‘It’s material, make a story out of it,’ was the mantra Charlotte Grimshaw grew up with in her famous literary family. But when her life suddenly turned upside-down, she needed to re-examine the reality of that material. The more she delved into her memories, the more the real characters in her life seemed to object. So what was the truth of ‘a whole life lived in fiction'?

This is a vivid account of a New Zealand upbringing, where rebellion was encouraged, where trouble and tragedy lay ahead. It looks beyond the public face to the ‘messy reality of family life – and much more’.

With bracing clarity, Grimshaw strenuously interrogates the dynamics of her 'tidily chaotic, respectably anarchic, stably unstable' family, delicately tracing the rising curve of friction and chaos within it . . . To be clear, this is in no way a resentful or angry book. Grimshaw maintains a calm, diagnostic coolness throughout when it would be so easy to write in anger. . . . A writer of unquestionable depth and insight, Grimshaw has what must be an almost overwhelming (for her, I imagine) and meticulous ability to view and consider everything she reports on from every angle imaginable . . . The Mirror Book details excruciating grief, loneliness, infidelity, psychological and emotional abuse, and physical violence . . . Grimshaw is a peerless writer with a strong sense of acuity and The Mirror Book is one of the best New Zealand memoirs I've read in years. Sure, it's a juicy page-turner but it is also full of surprises, acutely reported, and, as you would expect from Grimshaw, is written beautifully with dignified poise and care. A reflection of clarity and beauty.