Top writer joins Waikato

16 January 2018

Catherine Chidgey (Photo by Helen Mayall)

Award-winning novelist Catherine Chidgey will be joining the English Programme at the University of Waikato in a full-time academic position in creative writing from February this year.

Catherine's first novel, In a Fishbone Church, was published in 1998 and won a number of awards, including Best First Book of Fiction at both the New Zealand Book Awards and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Two years later she published Golden Deeds to international acclaim, followed by her third novel, The Transformation, in 2003; the year she was named New Zealand's best novelist under 40. Catherine’s fourth novel, The Wish Child, was published in 2016 and became an instant bestseller, winning the coveted 2017 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Her most recent novel, The Beat of the Pendulum, was released in November, and was a Listener Best Book of 2017.

Catherine has been writer in residence at the universities of Canterbury, Otago and Waikato, and at the Wallace Arts Centre in Auckland. Joining the University of Waikato Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) is a career step Catherine is very happy to take. “I’m thrilled to be joining the programme in a full-time capacity,” she says. “I already know the calibre of writing that our students can produce, and I’m keen to help develop many more new and exciting voices – our next generation of New Zealand writers. It’s wonderful to be teaching with Tracey Slaughter, whose established creative writing at Waikato is a force to be reckoned with.”

FASS Associate Dean Graduate and Postgraduate Students Dr Kirstine Moffat is “absolutely delighted” that the award-winning author will be joining the English Programme. “Before I met Catherine I was already a fan; her novels giving me hours of pleasure through her story-telling magic, multi-layered characters and luminous, poetic language,” she says. “Now I also know Catherine as an inspiring teacher, who helps her students discover their writing selves and, even more importantly, work hard at refining and improving that authentic writer's voice. English and Writing Studies students at Waikato are doubly fortunate to have Catherine join her talented colleague Tracey Slaughter as their guides into a rich world of creativity, self-expression, control over language and powerful emotion.”

Senior Lecturer in FASS Dr Tracey Slaughter is looking forward to working alongside Catherine. “It's an absolute thrill to have Catherine teaching alongside me, as her rare talent as a writer is matched by her ability to share her gifts with her students,” she says. “The passion, commitment and expertise she brings to her craft shines in her teaching, and we're so lucky to have a novelist of her impressive international reputation here at Waikato. And as we've also been close friends and a two-woman writing group for a number of years now, exchanging work and supporting each other in our art, our teamwork is unstoppable.”

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