Fiona Sussman’s THE LAST TIME WE SPOKE wins Ngaio Marsh Award

Huge congratulations to Fiona Sussman who was announced as the worthy recipient of the Best Crime Novel category at the Ngaio Marsh Awards at a ceremony hosted by Scorpio Books in Christchurch on Saturday 28th October 2017. Pictured is Fiona with fellow winners Michael Bennett and Finn Bell.

“Each of our winners this year is a remarkable storyteller who uses crime writing as a prism through which to explore broader human and societal issues,” said the Awards founder, Craig Sisterson. “When we launched in 2010 we wanted to highlight excellence in local crime writing, beyond traditional ideas of puzzling whodunits or airport thrillers. Our 2017 winners emphasise that broader scope to the genre, and showcase the inventiveness and world-class quality of our local storytellers.”

Sussman is the first female author to win the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. The Last Time We Spoke (Allison & Busby) is her second novel but the first foray into crime storytelling for the former GP who grew up in Apartheid South Africa. It explores the ongoing impact of a brutal home invasion on both victim and perpetrator. “Laden with empathy and insight,” said the international judging panel. “A challenging, emotional read, harrowing yet touching, this is brave and sophisticated storytelling.”

It took Sussman seven years to research and write her winning novel. She travelled Aotearoa visiting prisons, talking to police and victims, inmates and ex-gang members, and seeking advice from Māori writers to ensure she brought authenticity to the disparate worlds of her characters. She won a Ngaios trophy, special edition of a Dame Ngaio book, and $1,000 cash prize courtesy of WORD Christchurch.