Central to his fiction is the close observation of character, especially the disjunction between the perceptions of self and of others, between desire and outcome, revealed as much in quirky incidents as at times of crisis, and engendering pathos as well as comedy. His writing is exuberant and evocative, subtle and exact, aware of its own artifice yet relishing the idiosyncrasies and possibilities of language; control now seems more sure. Author entry from The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, edited by Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie (1998).

Damien Wilkins is a New Zealand writer of fiction, short stories and poetry.  He is the Director of the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, Wellington.  He is the author of ten books, including the novels The Miserables, which won the New Zealand Book Award for fiction in 1994 and Nineteen Widows Under Ash, which was joint runner up for the Deutz Prize for Fiction in the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. His novel The Fainter was runner-up for the Montana Medal for Fiction in 2007 and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. He received a Whiting Writers' Award from the Whiting Foundation, New York, in 1992, and his novels have been long-listed three times in the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.His essay-length book When Famous People Come to Town appeared in 2002. He has also published two books of stories, The Veteran Perils and for everyone concerned, and a book of poems, The Idles. His television scriptwriting includes work on Duggan and The Insiders Guide to Happiness. His first play, Drinking Games, was produced at Circa Theatre in 2008.

He holds an MFA from Washington University, has worked in publishing and was a founding editor of Sport. In 2005 the anthology he edited, Great Sporting Moments, won a Montana Book Award.

In 2008 Damien was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship and his novel, Somebody Loves Us All, was written during his time in Menton and published by Victoria University Press in 2009.

As a musician and songwriter, in 2011 he released an album of original material (‘Group Hug') under the name The Close Readers, followed up by 'New Spirit' in 2012. His most recent publications as a co-editor are The Best of the Best New Zealand Poems, and The Exercise Book: Creative Writing Exercises from Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters.

Damien was the recipient of an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2013.  The Laureate Award is an investment in excellence across a range of art forms for an artist with prominence and outstanding potential for future growth. Their work is rich but their richest work still lies ahead of them. The Award recognises a moment in the artists' career that will allow them to have their next great success.

His new novel, Max Gate, will be published in October.


Damien Wilkins is the author of ten books in total, including a book of poems and two books of short stories.
Born Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Graduated from Victoria University of Wellington
Heinemann Reed Fiction Award
Graduated with an MFA, Washington University in St. Louis;Whiting Writers' Award from the Whiting Foundation, New York
The Miserables  won the New Zealand Book Award for fiction
Nineteen Widows Under Ash joint runner up for the Deutz Prize for Fiction, Montana New Zealand Book Awards
The Fainter  runner-up for the Montana Medal for Fiction and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize
First play, Drinking Games, produced at Circa Theatre;Recipient, Katherine Mansfield Fellowship
Released album Group Hug
Director, Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University, Wellington;Recipient, Arts Foundation Laureate Award
publishes "Dad Art" (VUP)