Inaugural NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize shortlist announced

Five writers have been shortlisted for an award that celebrates fresh writing with a ‘unique and original vision‘.

NZSA congratulates shortlisted writers Joanna Aitchison, Tom Baragwanath, James Norcliffe, Lizzie Harwood, and Wes Lee.

89 applications were received and the shortlist judging panel of Tina Shaw and Ruby Porter commented: ‘We saw an inspiring range of work in the applications and a range that explored many different genres and themes. It is exciting to see such creativity is alive and well in Aotearoa’s writing scene’.

The shortlisted entries now go to the final judging panel to decide on the winner, who will be announced at the beginning of May.

About the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize

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 Both published and unpublished writers were invited to enter completed manuscripts written across genres (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, drama or children’s writing).

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.

In July 2019, NZSA received a bequest from the estate of writer Laura Solomon to establish a new annual literary prize. Sister and family trustee, Nicky Solomon, expresses the family’s delight at the nature of the bequest. “It was something Laura was really passionate about and I love the idea that something she wanted would be happening. It’s a legacy that she is able to leave for other writers.”

“She has created something positive to help other people, which she would be really proud of,” says Nicky. “It will give her an ongoing presence – not just for us as a family but for the writing community, which was so important to her.”

Laura Solomon was a longstanding and active member of the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc), and she is much missed by the society.  Laura kept writing novels and plays throughout her life, despite being affected by a brain tumour that was discovered while she working at a high-end IT job in London.

In her review of Laura’s short story collection Alternative Medicine, Jessica Le Bas wrote: “The hallmark of Solomon … was to pull no punches and aim for the jugular when it came to working up the surreal, and the macabre.”

The directors of The Cuba Press, Sarah Bolland, and Mary McCallum, are delighted to be involved with the Laura Solomon Prize. “Laura Solomon was one of those rare talents with a wild imagination,” says Mary McCallum, “who sadly didn’t have enough time to make her mark on the literary world. We think this is a very positive step to set up a prize in her name, and we are looking forward to working with the New Zealand Society of Authors and the Laura Solomon Trust to discover and publish talented new writers with wild imaginations who need this kind of practical support to make their mark.”

Right up until her death, Laura was planning new writing projects and pursuing her dream of being a full-time writer. In a 1996 interview, Laura said, “I’ve always written and I’ll continue to write. I wrote my name when I was three and never looked back.”

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