New Zealand literary talent recognised with prestigious Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship

Auckland, 9 March 2016:

An “especially strong list of applicants” for New Zealand’s preeminent literary fellowship has been whittled down to two.

New Zealand writer and journalist Diana Wichtel and Dunedin writer Breton Dukes will share the 2016 Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship.

Now in its 30th year, the Fellowship is a national literary award offering published New Zealand writers, both here and overseas, the opportunity to focus on their craft full-time, providing an annual stipend of $20,000 and tenure at the Sargeson Centre in Auckland.

Diana, who has worked as the television and feature writer at the New Zealand Listener since 1984, will be using the fellowship to work on a memoir exploring the impact of the Holocaust on her own family history.


Diana’s father survived the Holocaust by jumping from a train bound for Treblinka extermination camp and hiding in the forest. After liberation he then moved to Canada.

“The fellowship is an incredible opportunity that I’m truly grateful for,” she says.

An acclaimed short-story writer, Breton will be using the fellowship to work on his first novel. The story begins with a helicopter crash and then follows a number of characters after the crash.He says it is incredible to be following in the path of so many accomplished New Zealand writers.

The Trust is delighted that Breton and Diana are the Grimshaw Sargeson fellows for 2016, says Sargeson Trust chair Dr Elizabeth Aitken-Rose.

“They were selected from an especially strong list of applicants and now join a large group of distinguished fellows, many of whom are regarded as New Zealand’s most eminent writers.

“For three decades the Fellowship has offered writers time and space to work, often at a key stage in their writing careers.  Both Breton and Diana have strong projects for their time in residence. We are certain the fellowship will be of great help to them in taking their work to the next level.”

The Fellowship will run from April 1 to November 30. Breton will have the first stint at the residence with Diana finishing out the tenure.

Previous winners include Alan Duff, Michael King, Marilyn Duckworth, and Janet Frame. In 2015 the fellowship was awarded to Robert Glancy and Duncan Sarkies.

The fellowship has been recognising and supporting some of our greatest talents for  30 years, says Paul Grimshaw, partner, Grimshaw & Co.

It offers vital support to New Zealand writers to focus, uninterrupted, on their work, Grimshaw says. “They are contributing to New Zealand’s literary landscape and we are very proud to support them.

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