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“Dazzling” comic novel wins VUW creative writing prize

book-prize
Kate Duignan, Damien Wilkins, Verna Adam, Rebecca K Reilly

News from VUW
A comic novel has been awarded the 2019 Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing by Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML).

Rebecca K Reilly (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai) wrote the winning book, Vines, as part of her 2019 Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Writing at the IIML.

Vines tells the story of Greta and Valdin Vladisavljevic, a brother and sister of Māori and Russian heritage, flatting together in contemporary Auckland, and on the search for love. While grounded in urban New Zealand, the novel has lines of connection to the former United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), to South America, and to continental Europe.

Rebecca says, “I feel very honoured to have had my work chosen to win this prize. This year has been such a special opportunity. I have been able to work with so many exciting and forward-thinking people who have helped me learn so much. He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.”

Supported by Wellington philanthropists Verna Adam and the late Denis Adam through the Victoria University of Wellington Foundation, the $3,000 Adam Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the fiction stream of the MA in Creative Writing programme.

Fiction Coordinator Kate Duignan says it has been a pleasure to read the novel as it developed over the course of the year.

“When Rebecca first started on this novel, she talked to me about J.D. Salinger. Like the Glass Family, the Vladisavljevics are precocious, prone to over-sharing, and mournfully sceptical about their ability to get on in the ordinary world. You can’t help but fall in love with these characters. Vines is a whip-smart, inventive, gorgeous novel which is going to win Rebecca a devoted readership.”

Acclaimed author and Adam Foundation Prize examiner William Brandt says, “where this novel really shines is in the dazzling, jauntily comic voice of its telling, in the inventiveness of its charmingly up-to-the-minute, gently satirical depiction of Auckland society life, and in the rich complexity of its family history”.

An extract from Vines appears in the 2019 edition of the IIML’s online journal Turbine | Kapohau, where readers can also listen to the author reading her work.

Previous Adam Foundation Prize recipients include authors Eleanor Catton, Catherine Chidgey, Ashleigh Young, Hera Lindsay Bird, Annaleese Jochems, and Laura Southgate.