Tracy Farr is winner of the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize 2024!

Announcing the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize 2024 winner

The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) congratulates Tracy Farr on winning the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize with her manuscript Wonderland. 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. It awards new writing of ‘unique and original vision‘ with a cash prize of $2000 and a publishing contract with The Cuba Press. Publication will be in 2025. We also congratulate Abigail von Ahsen who is the runner-up, winning a cash prize of $1000 with her manuscript Flawless.

The winning manuscript, Wonderland is set on Te Motu Kairangi Miramar Peninsula in 1912. Wonderland is about the bliss of youth, the uncertainty of life and the wonder of science. It follows scientist Marie Curie, Alice-like, down an alt-historical rabbit hole to Aotearoa and – like Alice – asks, Who in the world am I?

Tracy’s manuscript was selected by a panel consisting of Mary McCallum and Denika Mead (The Cuba Press), Nicky Solomon (Solomon Family) and panel convenor and award-winning writer Cassie Hart.

The judges say: ‘Once again the finalists were a staggeringly talented set of authors with a diverse range of styles, all with the requisite “unique and original voice” that guides the selection.  It was hard to pick a winner, but we all felt Wonderland stood out for its sheer originality and the lyricism of its writing, which transported us while we read and stayed with us after we’d finished. It’s an absolute delight. Thanks to the Solomon family we are able to offer a runner-up prize again this year to Flawless, a young adult novel with strong writing and a well-conceived plot.’

Cassie Hart, convenor of the judges, says: ‘The finalists were all wonderful in very different ways but I felt particularly drawn to Wonderland for its lyrical prose and the way it swept me into this family and, in particular, the lives of the triplets at the heart of the book. I’m so grateful to NZSA, The Cuba Press and the Solomon family for this award, which helps lift up such original tales.’

Nicky Solomon says: ‘I absolutely enjoyed reading all of the finalists’ works, and as a family we are delighted to be able to support both the winner and the runner-up.  I know that Laura would have loved Wonderland, particularly the clever use of language and the playful quirkiness with which it is crafted. Thanks again to the NZSA for all of their work on this prize, and to The Cuba Press for their ongoing support and commitment.’

The Cuba Press is thrilled to be signing Tracy Farr as the fourth winner of the award. Director Mary McCallum says, ‘We are excited to see this prize grow in stature and continue to acknowledge writing that isn’t otherwise finding space in the publishing sphere. Tracy Farr’s novel is something special with its unique voice and compelling storytelling. Flawless is a deserved runner-up. Huge thanks to NZSA and the Solomon family for making it happen.’

Tracy Farr has this to say about her win: ‘I am over the moon – and a little overwhelmed, though in the best of ways – that my novel Wonderland has been awarded the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize. It’s hard for me to put into words just how much this means to me, particularly at this point in my writing career. Wonderland is a weird, multi-voiced, odd-on-the-page alt-historical novel about sisters and scientists, identity and reflection, about grief and loss and finding wonder. It’s taken me down many rabbit-holes in its writing, and it’s garnered support – including from CreativeNZ and Michael King Writers Centre – for which I’m truly grateful. And yet, there’ve been dark moments when I thought this novel might never see the light of day. So I’m beyond thrilled that my very Wellington novel has found a home with wonderful Wellington publisher The Cuba Press. My heartfelt thanks go to The Cuba Press, NZSA, the Solomon family and the Laura Solomon Trust, the judges – and to Laura Solomon for this prize that celebrates her life and her writing.’

Tracy Farr is the author of two novels, published internationally. Her first novel was listed for awards in Australia and adapted for broadcast by RNZ; her second novel was adapted for the stage. Her short fiction has won awards including Sunday Star-Times Short Story Award. She is co-curator of live literary series Bad Diaries Salon. She lives in Wellington, on Te Motu Kairangi Miramar Peninsula.

Congratulations to runner-up Abigail von Ahsen, with her manuscript Flawless!

A discretionary prize of $1,000 has been offered by the Solomon family to both winner Tracy Farr and runner-up Abigail von Ahsen.



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), Rachel J Fenton (Between the Flags 2022), and Lee Murray (Fox Spirit on a Distant Cloud) 2023.

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

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