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Onehunga writer wins national award for debut book2 min read

Jun 11, 2024 2 min

Onehunga writer wins national award for debut book2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Ryan Bodman with his award-winning book (Photo LK Creative)

Local author Ryan Bodman won the Judith Binney Prize For Illustrated Non-Fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, for his first book, Rugby League in New Zealand: A People’s History.

Ryan’s book was published by Bridget Williams Books in 2023, and won in the Mātātuhi Foundation Best First Book Awards category. The first book awards are the oldest awards in the national competition, and have recognised the best debut books for 80 years.

“It was a real honour to be acknowledged at an event like the New Zealand Book Awards, alongside lots of the country’s leading literary creatives. For me, the fact that I received an award named after Judith Binney was particularly meaningful, as she is a historian whose work has inspired me in a number of ways. And the profile of an event like the book awards is really great, as it has helped to bring my book to the attention of a larger audience,” says Ryan.

The Illustrated Non-Fiction convenor of judges, Lynn Freeman, said of Ryan’s book: “You don’t have to have seen a rugby league game, or even like sport, to be enchanted by Ryan Bodman’s debut book. This is a meticulously researched and engagingly written social history, packed full of stories about what rugby league has meant not just to the players and their supporters, but also to entire communities. The photographs – showing crowd support, action shots, smiling children, and female players – give us a fascinating insight into the story of the sport, whether on the margins or in the mainstream.”

The Judith Binney Prize for Illustrated Non-Fiction is named for the late historian Dame Judith Binney, whose several ground-breaking books demonstrated her lifelong commitment to researching and writing about the history of New Zealand.

The prize includes $3,000 and a 12-month membership to the New Zealand Society of Authors.