Skip to content
Quigley, Sarah
Author photo: Sebastian Schrade
Writer's File

Sarah Quigley

Quigley, Sarah
Author photo: Sebastian Schrade
In brief
Sarah Quigley is a fiction writer, poet, non-fiction writer and reviewer. Quigley’s novels and short stories are characterised by sharp observation and language play. She has received and been short-listed for several high profile awards and has been published in anthologies in New Zealand and the UK. Quigley has also been the recipient of the Berlin Writers’ Residency. She is a leading contemporary voice in New Zealand literature, writing and publishing across genres.


Quigley, Sarah (1967 - ) is a fiction writer and poet whose writing is characterised by pointed observation and sharp language play. She has won numerous awards for short fiction in New Zealand and the UK, and received a 1998 Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship.

Quigley's short fiction and poetry has appeared in anthologies (100 New Zealand Short Short Stories, Mutes and Earthquakes) and journals including Landfall, Poetry NZ, Takahe, NZ Listener, and New Writer UK.

Her first book was a collection of short stories, having words with you (1998). A novel, After Robert (1999) followed, and Quigley was one of three poets featured in Auckland University Press New Poets 1 (1999).

Stephen Stratford describes After Robert as 'intelligent and witty with strong characters who are utterly convincing - even the young men are sympathetic and interesting, which is not always the case in real life.'

Quigley is also a non-fiction writer and reviewer. She was shortlisted in the Reviewer of the Year category of the 1999 and 2000 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

She was awarded the inaugural Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers' Residency in 2000. In 2002, she received the Copyright Licensing Ltd Writer's Award to write a biography of the poet and patron of writers, Charles Brasch.

She and Nick Ascroft shared the 2003 Robert Burns Fellowship.

In 2004, Quigley received first place in the Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition for Breathing Out.

Love in a Bookstore or Your Money Back (2003) is described as ‘the cool, contemporary voice of a young woman who travels, falls in love, writes.'

Shot (2003). Meet Lena, daughter of Polish immigrants, professional funny woman. Lena is leaving it all behind - she heads for Alaska where she meets a mysterious tracker and a speechless child, and discovers that loss can sometimes be gain.

Quigley's novel Fifty Days was published in 2004 (Virago Press). In the middle of a city, in a deserted apartment block, a woman is living alone. She has 50 days to complete her self-imposed task. Her only contact with the outside world is through the Candy Girl, a singer with a mysterious connection to her past. Yet, day by day, self-containment becomes less possible.

Write: A 30 Day Guide to Creative Writing (2006), was published by Penguin Books.

Quigley had a poem included in Shards of Silver (Steele Roberts, 2006), a book investigating the interplay between photography and poetry.

Sarah Quigley's novel The Conductor (Random House NZ, 2011) was reviewed by Nicky Pellegrino. 'It’s an extraordinary book set during the siege of Leningrad and weaving fact with fiction... I felt utterly transported to a place and a time - Leningrad in the grip of winter and the brutal siege that saw its citizens stripped of hope and dignity, eating boiled shoe leather to survive, the life slowly being crushed out of them. It’s powerful material that might have been misused by a more heavy-handed writer but Quigley has a lightness and clarity both in the way she uses words and story.'

Tenderness, a collection of short fiction, was published in 2014 by Random House NZ. David Hill reviewed the book in the NZ Herald, 'The writing is restrained, dispassionate almost, but the narratives resonate with meaning and emotion... There are moments of utter lyricism... They crackle with dialogue like a firefight, and moments of slyly mordant humour... Quigley provides a perceptive, often elegant report on human temperaments, and the universal longing for a little, well, tenderness.'