Author Gina Cole‘s new book Black Ice Matter has won the Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction in the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards held at the Aotea Centre in Auckland last night.
The judges were impressed with the competitive field this year and found it extremely challenging to select a winner. The judges said ‘Gina Cole’s short stories are vivid and compelling; this is a new, assured and vibrant voice in Aotearoa New Zealand and Pasifika fiction. Exploring the extremes of heat and cold, peopled with strong, interesting characters you want to know more about, these stories alternatively burn you down, freeze you in your tracks, comfort or cool you. Cole’s precise and elegant writing startles and delights, it is exciting to read.’
Gina Cole was taken aback to receive the award. ‘I was thrilled and a little bit stunned when my name was announced’ said Gina. ‘I just feel really honoured to have received the award’.
Black Ice Matter is a short story collection with stories that centre around the Asia-Pacific region and uses the themes of heat and cold, either overtly or metaphorically, to highlight the connections and juxtapositions within each of the stories. In the stories, a woman is caught between traditional Fijian ways and the brutality of the military dictatorship; a glaciology researcher falls into a crevasse and confronts the unexpected; two women lose children in freak shooting accidents; a young child in a Barbie Doll sweatshop dreams of a different life; secondary school girls struggle with secrets about an addicted janitor; and two women take a deathly trip through a glacier melt stream.
Gina, who is of Fijian, Scottish and Welsh descent and is currently a barrister in Auckland, is also appearing at two events during the Auckland Writers Festival – the first is the sell-out Festival Gala Night – True Stories Told Live: The Heart of the Matter at 7.00pm on Thursday 18 May at the Aotea Centre. Gina Cole (NZ); Glenn Colquhoun (NZ); Ivan Coyote (Canada), Anne Enright (Ireland); Lloyd Geering (NZ); James Shapiro (USA); Ian Rankin(Scotland); and Mpho Tutu van Furth (South Africa) tell a seven minute true story propless and scriptless. The second event is ‘Pacific Tales’ on Friday 19 May at 2.30pm.
Black Ice Matter was published in September 2016 by HUIA Publishers and is HUIA’s first short story collection from a Pacific writer since Albert Wendt’s collection ‘Ancestry’ published in 2012.
Black Ice Matter is available at all good bookstores and online at www.huia.co.nz.