Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
In today’s global pandemic environment, Lizzie Harwood’s Auckland novel, Polaroid Nights, will launch both in real-life and online this Thursday, 9 December.
At Auckland’s XuXu Dumpling Bar, author Lizzie Harwood will read from Polaroid Nights and take part in a Q&A with Auckland hospo icon Krishna Botica. There will be some words from her publishing partners in this unique venture. As numbers will be limited, XuXu mixologist Aleksandr Shchepetkin has created a drink, The Betty & Alabama, for the occasion that people can make at home (link FB recipe) and join the live stream from 5.30pm via Facebook.
Polaroid Nights is the winner of the inaugural NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prizefor 2021, an award that celebrates the life and work of South Island writer Laura Solomon. Laura was a talented writer and NZSA member who sadly passed away after an illness, and left NZSA a bequest to establish a new annual prize, as a legacy gift to support new writers . The main criteria for the prize is “new writing with a unique and original vision”. NZSA and the Solomon Family Trust partnered with The Cuba Press to give a publishing opportunity to a writer.
“Thanks to Laura Solomon and the Cuba Press, this exciting new book can now make its way out into the world. It’s a great reminder that producing a book takes perseverance, talent and passion, all of which Lizzie Harwood has in spades!” NZSA President Mandy Hager said.
The Cuba Press directors, Sarah Bolland and Mary McCallum are also delighted with the result. “We’ve had a fantastic year working with the inaugural winner, Lizzie Harwood, on Polaroid Nights,” said Mary McCallum. “It’s a high-energy Auckland novel that may never have seen the light of day without the award. The excitement of a new literary prize encouraged her to resurrect a manuscript she started writing twenty-four years ago. Lucky for us.”
Since the book’s release in November, Author magazine’s Tina Shaw described it “a fast and furious snapshot of 90s nightlife” set in Auckland flats and city bars, when the click/whirr of a Polaroid proved you were living your best life.
“With a heroine both self-destructive and indestructible, Polaroid Nights is a novel to down in one go and get a little tipsy on,” Ruth Spencer wrote in her review in Kete Books.
Lizzie Harwood grew up on Aotea Great Barrier Island and previously wrote novels set in the far-flung places she’s lived (her memoir Xamnesia and Triumph: Collected Stories). But after twenty-four years overseas, mainly in Paris, she now lives in Devonport, Auckland, with her family.
“It’s been maybe a unique and original publishing path for Polaroid Nights – ‘the little novel that could’. I started it when I was 23, after my master’s degree in Film and English Lit, and it was shoved in a drawer for long stretches of time. I kept taking it out and trying to reframe it,” Lizzie said.
“The combination of turning it into crime fiction from literary fiction, and of revising furiously to enter the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize seemed to rekindle its original magic and give it wings. I never expected to shortlist, let alone win. I entered the prize to push myself to get my voice out there a little. I had to face the traumatic origins of this novel when I moved back to Aotearoa after half a lifetime overseas.
I had a thrilling publishing experience with The Cuba Press team who are all utter gems to work with and have to pinch myself to see this – my first manuscript – finally, alive. And now in readers’ minds and hearts. What a homecoming.”