Michael Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Novel 2024 – Shortlist announcement!


17 May 2024

Text Publishing and the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) are thrilled to announce the shortlist for the 2024 Michael Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Novel.

Four standout manuscripts by New Zealand writers have been shortlisted for this year’s prize:

  • Beneath by J. S. Michaels, a beautiful literary novel that speaks of love of the land and the complex relationships between abuse, grief and class.
  • The Birds Began to Sing by Jeffrey Buchanan, a warm and humorous coming-of-age story set in small-town New Zealand during the 1960s as a young boy’s secret life collides with the disappearance of a local barman.
  • The Swan Hunter by Helen Crampton, a quietly melancholic exploration of opposing beliefs and perspectives as part of the search for meaning in life.
  • The Universe Gun by Patrick Hunn, an outlandish romp that seamlessly blends the everyday with the absurd, challenging the very substance of the lives we lead.

The winner will be announced in July. The author of the winning manuscript will receive a contract for world rights from Text, along with an advance of NZ$10,000.

This year’s impressive shortlist was chosen by Text Publishing from a longlist of thirteen wide-ranging manuscripts selected by writer and editor Michelle Elvy and the inaugural Michael Gifkins Prize winner, Ruby Porter. Of the longlist, they said: ‘We noticed strong themes that connected current-day conflict with historically rooted issues or future-imagined realities. There is careful attention to time and place, and many capture a locally situated sense of land, sea and air. We admire the ambition of these entries, and feel they all deserve a place on the list.’

Past winners of the Gifkins Prize include Ruby Porter, Gigi Fenster, Tom Baragwanath, Emma Ling Sidnam and Tina Shaw, whose engrossing novel, A House Built on Sand, will be published by Text in August this year. Entries for the 2025 prize will open in late July 2024.

The shortlisted writers

J. S. Michaels

J. S. Michaels is an author and mental health professional born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her writing explores contemporary issues of politics, identity and biculturalism. Beneath is her first novel, for which she received a NZSA CompleteMS assessment and the Hachette Mentorship.


Jeffrey Buchanan

Jeffrey Buchanan has written five novels concerned primarily with LGBTQI+ issues, Sucking Feijoas being his first. He worked in international development for thirty years and now lives with his husband on a remote stretch of beach in North Canterbury.

Helen Crampton

Helen Crampton has an MA from the International Institute of Modern Letters and works in education and tourism. Her writing has been published in Aotearoa and Australia and was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize. Wanderlust, curiosity and nature – especially in Mohua Golden Bay – influence her writing and life.

Patrick Hunn

Patrick Hunn is a writer from Wellington who lives in Melbourne. His work has appeared in Going Down Swinging, Sport and sick leave. He is a graduate of the MA program at the International Institute of Modern Letters and a PhD candidate at RMIT University.

The Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Novel is made possible by a generous financial commitment from the Gifkins family and from Text Publishing. It is administered by the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc).

For enquiries, please contact: Dante Boffa, Text Publishing dante.boffa@textpublishing. com.au

Jenny Nagle, New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) +64 27 627 2728, director@nzauthors.org.nz

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