Shearer Stephen Daisley wins at Ockham NZ Book Awards

Stephen Daisley, a shearer and soldier, has recently won the $50,000 at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for his novel Coming Rain.

Daisley is a virtually unknown author in the country, so the award was a great surprise. This year, he put himself on the literary map by winning the $50,000 Acorn Foundation Literary Prize.

“Forget Craig Marriner! The strangest ever winner of a New Zealand book award has just been announced,” The Spinoff reported. “A writer who pretty much only 16 or 17 people in the book world had ever heard of is the winner of the biggest literary award of the year at tonight’s 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.”

Set in rural Western Australia in the 1950s, the book, according to Book Awards judge Jill Rawnsley, tells “a universal story of love and aspiration, betrayal and disappointment.”

Rawnsley added that the novel is “masterful,” and that the characters are “utterly believable.”

Daisley competed with David Coventry, Patricia Grace, and Patrick Evans.

Aside from being a soldier in the New Zealand army, Daisley was also a shearer, musterer, and bulldozer driver in Western Australia, where he was a long-time resident. He’s originally from Raetihi.

According to reports, Daisley submitted stories to publishers when he was in his 20s, but he only got a book published at 56. His first novel Traitor won the Australian Prime Minister’s Award for Literature and has received other writing awards.

Other awards, according to Stuff, were givent to Witi Ihimaera for Maori Boy, a memoir; David Eggleton for his poetry collection The Conch Trumpet; and authors Aroha Harris, Atholl Anderson, and the late Judith Binney for Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History.