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Published 16 May 2018

Diana Wichtel wins Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction

Diana Wichtel

For her memoir 'Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father' (Awa Press), Diana Wichtel received the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction at the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards this week.

NZ Books GNF Winner 2018 web

At the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards held in Auckland's Aotea Centre ASB Theatre on Tuesday 15 May, Society President, Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford, presented longstanding New Zealand Listener journalist Diana Wichtel with the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction for Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father (Awa Press). She also collected the E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for General Non-Fiction. 

Driving to Treblinka is about Diana's search to discover what happened to her father, a Polish Jew, who survived the Holocaust by using his wits, but then disappeared when Diana moved with her mother and siblings from Vancouver to New Zealand.

The judges in this category, Dr Ella Henry, Philip King and Toby Manhire, commented that “Wichtel’s curiosity, alternately upsetting and uplifting, turns invisibly into a kind of mission. At its heart this is a family story, but one which cannot but shine a light on the vestiges of anti-Semitism that linger in Europe today. It is not just a beautifully written book, but an important book, too.”

The other short-listed finalists in this category, who all gave readings from their books, were Michael Belgrave with Dancing with the King: The Rise and Fall of the King Country, 1864-1885; Anne Salmond with Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds; and Tom Scott with Drawn Out: A Seriously Funny Memoir

The three other main award winners were:

Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize | Pip Adams, The New Animals
Poetry Award | Elizabeth Smither, Night Horse
Illustrated Non-Fiction Award | Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins, Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds

Diana spoke with Kim Hill on RNZ National's Saturday Morning show about her book in September last year: 


And gold was very much in fashion on the night, with the theme being 'Gold' as the New Zealand Book Awards celebrated its 50th anniversary.

For further information, visit Ockham New Zealand Book Awards winner announcement.


Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi