Wellington author spotlight: Geoff Cochrane

Author image by Grant Maiden

A city’s image is always complex, and Wellington is no exception. For over 150 years it’s had to contend with being a capital city; being in the middle of the country; being on unstable ground. From these complexities an identity has emerged, what Lonely Planet described as “a little city with a big rep”. But beside this identity is another, more marginal Wellington, and one writer has been described as the “keeper of its keys”: Geoff Cochrane.

Public Relations

My barista asks me where he can find my books, and
I’m not exactly thrilled by this development. My barista
thinks I’m a great bloke, currently, and I don’t want him
reading my books and changing his mind.

Cochrane has lived in Wellington for most of his life. While he started writing at an early age, it wasn’t until Victoria University Press released Aztec Noon: Poems 1976-1992 that he first found a home at a mainstream publisher. He has gone on to win numerous awards, including the Janet Frame Prize for Poetry and a 2014 Laureate Award, as well as regular appearances in Best New Zealand Poems.

Despite these accolades, Cochrane’s work continues to evoke Wellington’s physical–and literary–boundaries. His latest poetry collection, RedEdits, takes the reader to the Warehouse in Rongotai, to A&E, to his barista. It reveals the butt of his cigarettes, a drop of his blood, a verandah in Levin.

Points of Interest

Sand and water make up 99% of fracking fluid.
Winston Churchill did without a close male friend.
Nembutal is the trade name of sodium pentobarbital.
Michelangelo completed his Pietà at the age of 25.

(According to Martin Amis, wars get old.
Get grizzled and smelly and rotten and mad,
and the bigger they are the faster they age.)

Cochrane’s writing has been called “one of the great pleasures” of New Zealand literature. Writer Pip Adam has described it as “a joy to me, a solace, a proof that art can be made in New Zealand which shows ourselves in new ways.” To discover this proof for yourself, check out RedEdits at Wellington City Libraries.

 

The 2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist has been announced

The shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize has recently been announced. Six novels from the long list of thirteen have been chosen by the panel of judges. Two American authors, Paul Auster and George Saunders, are included in the selection, along with two previously shortlisted authors, Pakistani Mohsin Hamid and Scottish Ali Smith. Two debut British authors complete the list. The winner of the £50,000 award will be announced on 17th October 2017 in London.

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National Poetry Day Celebrations this Friday

Syndetics book coverWellington City Libraries are pleased to be hosting Makaro Press poets celebrating National Poetry Day, this Friday 25th August at 1.00pm on the Ground floor of the Central Library.

Join us for this exciting event where 12 Wellington authors and poets will read from their work. Poets include: • Mary Cresswell • Lindsay Pope • Janis Freegard • Tim Jones • Harvey Molloy • Maggie Rainey-Smith • Keith Westwater • Pete Carter • Peter Stuart • Robyn Cooper • Helen Rickerby • Julie Hanify • Peter Rawnsley • Robin Peace • John Howell.

National Poetry Day is also being celebrated at Cummings Park Library, Ngaio with these two events:
Write and see: write poems responding to photos taken in our community, and see what others have written. Monday 14 – Monday 28 August.

Hear and read: on Friday 25th August, 7.30-9.30pm, come and hear poems by writers with connections to Ngaio and Crofton Downs, with Kerry Popplewell, Kate Spencer, John Howell, Janis Freegard, Carmen Downes and more. There will be an open mic and light refreshments.

More information on this annual event can be found at poetryday.co.nz

Longlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize announced

Syndetics book coverThe judging panel for the 2017 Man Booker Prize have chosen 13 novels from the 144 submitted for this year’ longlist. The longlist includes four American authors, Paul Auster, George Saunders, Colson Whitehead, and debut novelist Emily Fridlund. One other debut novelist is Fiona Mozley from the United Kingdom.
Four of the longlisted authors have previously been shortlisted for this prize, but have never won; they are Sebastian Barry, Mohsin Hamid, Ali Smith and Zadie Smith.
The shortlist of six novels will be announced in September, with the winner of the £50,000 announced in October.

2017 International Dublin Literary Award winner announced

Syndetics book coverThe 2017 winner of this prestigious award, The International Dublin Literary Award (previously known as the IMPAC prize) has been presented to Angolan writer Jose Eduardo Agualusa for his novel titled, A General Theory of Oblivion. Of Portuguese descent, his prize of €100,000 will be shared with his English translator Daniel Hahn.
A previous novel, published in 2006, titled The Book of Chameleons, won the International Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007.

2016 New Zealand Fiction prize winners announced

Syndetics book coverThis year’s Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize of $50,000, has been awarded to Catherine Chidgey for her novel The Wish Child. This is her fourth novel since her first, In a Fishbone Church, was published in 1998, and is thirteen years after her last novel, The Transformation.
The Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction was awarded to Gina Cole for her short story collection Black Ice Matter.

 

Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction shortlist announced

Seven novels have been shortlisted for the 2017 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. This annual British literary award was founded in 2010 and is open to novels first published in the UK, Ireland or Commonwealth in the preceding year. This year’s shortlist includes 2010 winner Sebastian Barry for his most recent novel, set during the American Civil War, titled Days without End.

The winner of the £25,000 award will be announced on 17th June 2017.

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Crime writer Colin Dexter has died

Syndetics book coverPopular English crime writer Colin Dexter has died at his home in Oxford aged 86. Most famously known as the creator of the Inspector Morse character that spanned 13 novels, the first, titled Last Bus to Woodstock, was published in 1973. The last novel where his character Morse died was titled The Remorseful Day and was published in 1999. All these 13 novels were adapted into a very popular television series. He also published two novellas, a short story collection, and a book on solving cryptic crosswords. He received several Crime Writers’ Association Awards and in 2000 was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to literature.

Sebastian Barry wins 2016 Costa Book of the Year Award

Syndetics book coverThe winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award has been awarded to Sebastian Barry for his novel titled Days Without End. The Costa prize has five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book, with one of the five winning books selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year and the prize of £30,000. This is the second time Sebastian Barry has received this award, the first being in 2008 for his novel titled The Secret Scripture.
Sebastian Barry was born in Ireland in 1955. His first novel was published in 1982; this was followed by eight other novels, two volumes of poetry and fourteen plays.

Irish author William Trevor dies

Syndetics book coverWilliam Trevor, the Irish author has died at 88 years. A prolific fiction writer, he was born in Ireland, and lived the later part of his life in England. His first novel was published in 1958, with 18 titles following. He also published 18 short story collections, 6 plays and 3 works of non-fiction. He won the Hawthornden Prize for literature in 1964 for his novel titled The Old Boys. He won the Whitbread Prize three times, and was nominated for the Booker Prize five times. He won the American short story O. Henry Award four times. His last published novel, titled Love and Summer was published in 2009.