IIML graduates shortlisted for 2020 Michael Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript

All three manuscripts shortlisted for this prestigious prize are by IIML Creative Writing graduates.

The shortlist was announced by Text Publishing and the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa PEN NZ Inc.

The shortlisted manuscripts, selected 'on the basis of literary merit and commercial appeal', are Flight by Whitney Cox, A Good Winter by Giovanna (Gigi) Fenster and Pōhara by Michelle Rahurahu Scott. All three are graduates of Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka's MA in Creative Writing programme at the International Institute of Modern Letters.  Gigi Fenster was also awarded a PhD Creative Writing in 2016.

Whitney Cox's YA novel Flight follows thirteen-year-old Cass, who moves to New Zealand to live with her uncle after her parents' death in a plane crash. The manuscript was Whitney’s thesis for her MA in Creative Writing at the IIML at Victoria University, and was subsequently supported by a Media Grant from the Mental Health Foundation.

Gigi Fenster's tightly wound psychological thriller A Good Winter explores a woman's obsession with her neighbour, which becomes so intense it leads to murder. Gigi is the author of The Intentions Book and Feverish. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and various law degrees. She teaches creative writing and law.

Michelle Rahurahu Scott's (Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa, Ngāti Raukawa, Rangitāne) manuscript is a dark family drama centred around two teenagers who embark on a road trip after a family tragedy. Michelle currently resides on Te Ākitai Waiohua whenua, in Takaanini. In 2019, Michelle joined Rangatahi o te Pene, who self-published Te Rito o te Harakeke, an anthology of Māori voices for Ihumātao. She's an IIML graduate and has poetry, non-fiction and fiction in several places.

The three manuscripts were selected by Text Publishing from a longlist of fifteen manuscripts, curated by New Zealand writers Lee Murray and Paddy Richardson, who commented on the 'quite simply, extraordinary' quality of the longlist.

The winner will be announced in September. They will receive a contract with Text for world rights, and an advance of NZ$10,000.