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Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones’s Biography

Last Updated:
26/11/2020, 1:30 pm
Arts Foundation Laureate 2007, Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship 1989
"[Lloyd] Jones is a daring writer who can be relied on to ignore expectation, and is becoming one of the most interesting, honest and thought-provoking novelists working today." Joanna Briscoe, the Guardian, 13/11/10

Lloyd Jones is a full-time writer. After graduating from Victoria University he worked as a journalist and consultant while remaining a committed writer.

Although he has always lived in the Wellington area, Jones has travelled widely, through the United States and India, through Europe, Moldavia, Ukraine, Russia and throughout the Pacific and Asia. He spent 1989 as the Katherine Mansfield Fellow at Menton in the South of France, and has held the QE II Arts Council Scholarship. He spent the year 2007-2008 in Berlin as Creative New Zealand's writer-in-residence.

Lloyd's short stories were collected in Swimming to Australia which was short-listed for the New Zealand Book Award in Fiction, and his stories have been anthologised in Vital Writing, the Oxford Book of New Zealand Short Stories, Soho Anthology (UK), Grand Street (New York) and broadcast on Radio New Zealand and the BBC.

In 1993 he published Biografi which was short-listed for the New Zealand Book Awards and a New York Times notable book for the year. The book resulted from a journey through Albania in the aftermath of Enver Hoxha's Stalinist regime in Albania; part travel narrative and part fable, Biografi is an inquiry into the nature of identity itself, a theme that Jones frequently re-visits in later books.

In 1994 he curated (with photographer Bruce Foster) an exhibition at the National Library that illustrated the phenomenon of the New Zealand Saturday. With historical photographs and contemporary ones by Foster, and an essay by Jones, this was published as Last Saturday (1994), again unusual in its examination of genuinely popular culture.

This House Has Three Walls (three novellas, 1995) was followed by the novel Choo Woo (1998) which is the disturbing story of the sexual abuse of a young girl by her stepfather, whose sinister baby talk gives the story its title. The Book of Fame (2000) explores the nature of fame as it sets out to mythologize the 1905 All Black tour of Europe and North America.

Here At the End of the World We Learn to Dance was short listed in the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Also in 2002, Jones' Four Winds Press published the first three books in a series of twelve essays. In 2003 his novel The Book of Fame won both the Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize and the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Also in 2003 Downstage presented a play adapted from the novel. He wrote the children's picture book Napoleon and the Chicken Farmer (2003) and the novel Paint Your Wife (2004).

Lloyd's' prize-winning and bestselling novel, Mister Pip (Penguin) was published in 2006. Set in Bougainville during the Civil War of the early 1990s, Mister Pip is narrated by 14 year old Matilda, whose life is changed when the elderly white Mr Watts steps in as school teacher and reads to the class Dickens's Great Expectations.

Lloyd won both the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Overall Best Book Award 2007and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book in the South East Asia and South Pacific region for Mister Pip. The novel was also awarded the 2007 Montana Medal for fiction and the Reader's Choice awards at the same 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Judges' convenor, Dr Paul Millar claimed Mister Pip to be Lloyd Jones' most significant book yet. Mister Pip was further recognised internationally when it made the shortlist of the 2007 Man Booker Prize. It also won the 2008 Kiriyama Pacific Prize for fiction. Mister Pip has been published in 33 countries.

In 2007 Lloyd was awarded the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers' Residency. In 2008 he one of three writers to be honoured with a 2008 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement for their significant contribution to New Zealand literature. He also received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award and an Antarctica New Zealand Arts Fellowship in the same year.

The Man in the Shed (Penguin, 2009), includes both new and previously published works of fiction, the novel Hand Me Down World, was published by Penguin NZ in late 2010 and a family memoir A History of Silence was published in 2013.

Mr Pip directed by New Zealander Andrew Adamson and shot on location in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, was released in October 2013 in New Zealand. Mr Pip was selected to premiere in the "special presentation'" section at the Toronto International Film Festival in the previous year. The film stars actor Hugh Laurie as the eccentric Mr Watts.

Lloyd Jones lives in Wellington. He currently chairs the Bougainville Library Trust.