10 Jun 2012

Commonwealth prize for NZ writer

7:11 am on 10 June 2012

New Zealand short story writer Emma Martin of Wellington has won a literary prize from the Commonwealth Foundation.

The £5000 prize for Two Girls in a Boat was presented at the Hay Festival in Britain.

Prize chair Bernardine Evaristo said: "(The story) fulfilled the judges' brief that the winning entry have linguistic flair, originality, depth and daring."

Martin said winning the short story prize was "a wonderful and unexpected honour".

"Writing can be a solitary business, so to receive any award is immensely encouraging," she added.

A £10,000 prize was awarded to Shehan Karunatilaka from Sri Lanka for his debut novel Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew.

The book tells the story of a retired sports journalist who tries to track down an elusive man who he considers the greatest cricketer of all time.

Prize chair Margaret Busby described the novel as a "fabulously enjoyable read".

The awards aim to showcase new literary talent in the Commonwealth. They were presented by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie of Nigeria, who won the Orange Prize in 2007.