Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shortlists for the Writers' Trust of Canada Awards

The Writers' Trust of Canada gives out some major prize money each fall to Canadian fiction, non-fiction and short-fiction authors. These are the first all-Canadian shortlists of the major book awards season (the Toronto book awards shortlist was announced a few weeks ago, but it has a much more limited scope). Without further preamble, here are the nominated works and authors:

The Writers' Trust Fiction Prize ($25,000 to the winner; $2,500 to each finalist)
Practical Jean by Trevor Cole (McClelland & Stewart)
Room by Emma Donoghue (HarperCollins Publishers)
Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm (McClelland & Stewart)
Annabel by Kathleen Winter (House of Anansi Press)
The Death of Donna Whalen by Michael Winter (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
The Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize ($25,000 to the winner; $2,500 to each finalist)
What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son's Quest to Redeem The Past by James FitzGerald (Random House Canada)
Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven by Ross King (Douglas & McIntyre/McMichael Canada Art Collection)
Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer's, My Mother And Me by Sarah Leavitt (Freehand Books)
The Ptarmigan's Dilemma: An Exploration into How Life Organizes and Supports Itself by John Theberge and Mary Theberge (McClelland & Stewart)
The Love Queen of Malabar: Memoir of a Friendship with Kamala Das by Merrily Weisbord (McGill-Queen's University Press)
Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Steward Journey Prize ($10,000 to the winner; $2,000 to the literary journal that published the winning piece)
Devon Code for "Uncle Oscar" – The Malahat Review
Krista Foss for "The Longitude of Okay" – Grain Magazine
Lynn Kutsukake for "Mating" – The Dalhousie Review
There are also four additional awards being handed out this year:
Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life (worth $20,000) 
Vicky Metcalf Award for Childrens' Literature (worth $20,000) 
Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award (worth $25,000)
Writers' Trust Award for Distinguished Contribution will also be awarded
I always find it interesting at this point in the book awards season to see which titles keep popping up. Of course, Emma Donoghue's Room is nominated for the Man Booker Prize, and there was a collective gasp in the book world when it wasn't included on the Giller Prize longlist. Kathleen Winter's Annabel was on the Giller list, though, along with Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm.

A little overlap is expected when literary juries are lauding what they agree to be the best work published each year, but I always find it heartening when the lists are distinct. Different juries award different kinds of work and if we want Canadian literature to thrive, spreading the wealth (both in terms of prize money and sales-driving attention) is crucial.

The Writers' Trust Awards will be handed out on Nov. 2.

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