Catherine Chidgey is a novelist and short story writer whose first novel, In a Fishbone Church, was a critically acclaimed multi-award winner, and a New Zealand bestseller. Louis de Bernieres reviewed it as ‘warm, subtle and evocative. You will be thinking about it long after you have finished reading.’ Among numerous awards, Chidgey received a Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship in 1998, and is a member of the Sargeson Trust. She was awarded the 2001 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, the inaugural Glenn Schaeffer Prize in Modern Letters in 2002, and in 2005 she received the Robert Burns Fellowship.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chidgey, Catherine (1970 –) is a novelist and short story writer whose first novel, In a Fishbone Church, was a critically acclaimed multi-award winner, and a New Zealand bestseller.
Born and raised in Lower Hutt, Chidgey was educated at Victoria University, and in Berlin, where she held a DAAD scholarship for post-graduate study in German literature.
In 1997, Chidgey was awarded the Adam Prize in Creative Writing for In a Fishbone Church. The prize is awarded annually to the best portfolio in the MA in Creative Writing programme at Victoria University, convened by Bill Manhire. In a Fishbone Church also won the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Award for Best First Book of Fiction at the1998 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and was runner-up for the Deutz Medal. It also won the Best First Book award in the South-East Asia/South Pacific section of the 1999 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and a 1999 Betty Trask award in the UK. It has been published in Australia,the UK, and Germany.
Critics have praised Chidgey's ‘unusually fine emotional register’ (Cath Kenneally, Landfall), describing the novel as ‘a triumph of lightness’ (Elizabeth Smither, New Zealand Herald), ‘[a]n exceptional achievement’ (The Bookseller, UK), ‘a wry, tender and absorbing first novel’ (Emily Perkins, Times Literary Supplement).
The novel attracted the notice of overseas critics and authors: Louis de Bernieres writes that ‘[t]his book is warm, subtle and evocative. You will be thinking about it long after you have finished reading.’ Nick Hornby describes Chidgey as ‘a wonderful new talent.’
Short stories have appeared in journals including Landfall, Sport and the NZ Listener and in the anthologies Mutes and Earthquakes (1997), and The Picnic Virgin (1999). Chidgey won the 1997 Listener Womens Book Festival short story competition.
Catherine Chidgey held a Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship in 1998, and is a member of the Sargeson Trust.
In 1999 she was awarded the Todd New Writers Bursary.
Chidgey's second novel, Golden Deeds (2000) was a runner-up in the Fiction category of the 2000 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Linda Burgess writes in the Dominion ‘So — is Chidgeys second novel as good? I think it is ... I glided through this immensely readable, beautifully written, rather profound, thoroughly excellent book.’
The book has received rave reviews in the British press. 'Golden Deeds is a wonderful, gripping read,' writes the Sunday Express. 'Chidgey proves herself to be among that elite group of authors who possess a true grasp of the patterns of life.'
The Times Literary Supplement describes it as 'magnanimous and merciless, a work reminiscent at times of darkest Atwood.'
Golden Deeds is published in the US by Henry Holt, under the title The Strength of the Sun.
Catherine Chidgey was the 2001 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. One of New Zealand's most long-standing and prestigious literary awards, the fellowship is offered annually to enable a New Zealand writer to work in Menton, France. She also won the the inaugural Glenn Schaeffer Prize in Modern Letters in 2002. With a cash award of $60,000 it was at the time Australasia's most lucrative literary award.
In 2003 she shared The Ursula Bethell Residency with Gavin Bishop.
Her third novel The Transformation (Picador) was published in 2003. Margie Thomson of the New Zealand Herald said in her review, 'on the strength of this novel, her third and best so far, Chidgey could tackle any subject and produce something wonderful from it.' Barnes & Noble selected The Transformation in their Discover Great New Writers programme in 2005.
In 2005 Chidgey translated Donkeys (Gecko Press), a Austrian children's book by Adelheid Dahimene-Heide Stollinger.
Catherine Chidgey was awarded the 2005 Robert Burns Fellowship. She was invited to stay on for the first half of its 2006 tenure, to continue working on her fourth novel.
She was the 2009 Writer-in-Residence at Waikato University.
Catherine Chidgey was the recipient of the 2012 NZSA Beatson Fellowship, and in 2013 she won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, judged by Albert Wendt.
In 2016 Chidgey released her novel The Wish Child (Victoria University Press). The book has been longlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
The New Zealand Listener has called Chidgey '[i]ntelligent, lyrical, disciplined and observant, she is the real deal, the star of her generation.'
Author photo credit: Fiona Pardington
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
- Read Catherine Chidgey's 2013 Katherine Mansfield Award story
- An interview with Catherine Chidgey on The Wish Child
- The 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlist
- Otago Daily TImes review of The Wish Child
- An excerpt of The Wish Child
- A reading of The Wish Child on Radio New Zealand
- Interview with Catherine Chidgey in Article Magazine
- Review of The Wish Child by Paula Green