15 May 2014
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Creative New Zealand says this year’s $100,000 Michael King Writer’s Fellowship will go to author Elizabeth Knox to write a memoir based on her experiences of illness and violent death in her family.
One of New Zealand’s best-loved writers, Knox says she wants to write about “the four years during which, among other things, my mother was diagnosed as suffering from Progressive Bulsar Palsy (a form of Motor Neurone Disease) and I was her principle caregiver and my brother-in-law died as a result of an act of intentional violence.”
“I want to write a very personal story that intersects with lots of people’s experience – their experience if not now, then one day.”
The selection panel for the award (Kate Camp, David Hill and Iain Sharp) were unanimous in their enthusiasm for the project:
“The project excites and engages me, and I'd love to see her complete it.”
“She's at the top of her game and already has a big following and the subject matter for her memoir -- how to cope with ageing, mental illness and violent death in the family -- will interest almost everyone. I expect the finished book (or books) to be an international bestseller, much as Joan Didion's grief memoirs The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights were.”
“I feel that Knox has the chops to carry it off and write a compelling and profound book. I finished the application thinking – I want to read this book (and also, I’m scared to read this book).”
Elizabeth Knox will be the twelfth recipient of the Michael King Fellowship since its establishment in 2003. The award was renamed in recognition of the late Michael King for his contribution to literature and his role in advocating for a major fellowship for New Zealand writers.
The fellowship is available to established New Zealand authors of any literary genre with a significant publication record. It is offered annually for writers working on a major project which will take two years or more to complete.
Previous recipients of the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship are Fiona Farrell, Owen Marshall, Vincent O’Sullivan, CK Stead, Rachel Barrowman, Neville Peat, Dame Fiona Kidman, Philip Simpson, Kate De Goldi, Peter Wells and Dr Peter Simpson.
Elizabeth Knox was the 1999 recipient of the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship which is offered annually to enable a New Zealand writer to work in Menton, France.
Her novel, The Vintner's Luck won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, where it also received the Readers' Choice and Booksellers' Choice awards. It was also shortlisted for the 1999 Orange Prize, and in 2001 it was awarded the inaugural Tasmania Pacific Region Prize.
Knox was the recipient of a 2000 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award and was awarded an ONZM for her services to literature in the 2002 New Zealand Queen's Birthday honours list.
Her books have continued to gain awards and recognition:
Billie’s Kiss was short listed in the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Her novel, Daylight, was shortlisted for Best Book in the South Pacific & South East Asian Region of the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
Dreamhunter won the 2006 Esther Glen Award in recognition of distinguished contribution to New Zealand children's literature and was selected as an ALA (American Library Association) Best Book for Young Adults 2007
Dreamquake won the Michael L Printz Award in 2008 and an ALA Best book award in the same year.
In 2009, Knox received the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work, for The Invisible Road.
The Love School: Personal Essays was winner of the Biography and Memoir category of the 2009 Book Awards.
This year, Mortal Fire was a finalist in the LA Times Book Awards, and is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children's Book awards.
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