Catherine Chidgey

Catherine Chidgey won the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2023 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for her novel The Axeman’s Carnival. Catherine also won the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for her novel The Wish Child. Catherine is a Waikato University creative writing senior lecturer and children's book writer, her latest being Jiffy's Greatest Hits. Catherine’s first novel, In a Fishbone Church, won Best First Book at the New Zealand Book Awards and at the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in her region. In the UK, it won the Betty Trask Award and was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her second, Golden Deeds, was Time Out’s book of the year, a Notable Book of the Year in The New York Times and a Best Book in the LA Times. Catherine has won the Prize in Modern Letters, the Katherine Mansfield Award, the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship and the Janet Frame Fiction Prize. Her novel Remote Sympathy was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

2023 festival sessions

Chidgey on Fire

Catherine Chidgey in conversation with Tania Miller

Two-time Ockham-winner, Catherine Chidgey is hailed as one of this country’s most masterful writers working today. Catherine has written eight widely acclaimed books from In a Fishbone Church (1988) to Pet (2023). Many of her stories have fable-like qualities and deploy humour to reward the reader even while exploring dark themes. All her books demonstrate the author’s extraordinary imagination and sharp prose. Catherine says she has a fire burning under her to write – don’t miss this chance to hear her talk about her writing life and what sparks her imagination at this session of the Marlborough Book Festival.

The Axeman’s Carnival

Catherine Chidgey in conversation with Nikki Macdonald

An utterly believable mimicking magpie narrates this extraordinary story set in the beautiful yet harsh landscape of Central Otago. Catherine discusses her inspiration for the novel, with its exploration of themes encompassing domestic violence, the challenges of farming, the weird world of internet fame, and the vagaries of human relationships with animals, which she suggests can be at once closely bonded and exploitative.


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