Gigi Fenster wins 2020 Michael Gifkins Prize

The Victoria University Press (VUP) author and PhD Creative Writing will receive a publishing contract with Text and a $10,000 advance for her second novel, A Good Winter.

The Michael Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Novel has been offered by Text Publishing and the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc. since 2018.

Gigi, who was awarded her PhD from Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington in 2016, has previously published a novel and a memoir with VUP. She also has 'various law degrees' and teaches creative writing and law. Of her win, she says:  'I think most writers are filled with doubt—about the quality of their work, the strength of their voice, the value they bring. Winning this award has subdued that doubt—quite possibly forever. I am so grateful to Text and the Gifkins whānau for this recognition and encouragement.'

A Good Winter is described as 'an enthralling psychological thriller, a dark and complex portrait of a troubled mind. When Olga's friend Lara becomes a grandmother and her daughter and the baby come to stay, Olga helps out whenever she can. After all, it's a big imposition on Lara, and the new mother is not exactly considerate. But simmering beneath Olga's loving generosity is a deep, jealous need to be the centre of Lara's attention and affection, a need that soon becomes a consuming, dangerous and ultimately tragic obsession.'

The novel will be published by Text in September 2021.

Text's publisher Michael Heyward said: 'We created this prize in partnership with Ann Hatherly and André Gifkins and the New Zealand Society of Authors to honour the memory of Michael Gifkins who was a wonderful man, and a great advocate and champion of New Zealand writing.'

There were over a hundred entries for this year's Prize. All three shortlisted manuscripts were by IIML alumni. The other finalists were MA graduates Whitney Cox and Michelle Rahurahu Scott.

Read the full announcement on Scoop.