All stories by Stuart Woods
A monster crowd was on hand for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading festival at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. The two-day kidlit event featuring signings, readings, and workshops also included ceremonies for its signature prizes.
The winners are:
Blue Spruce Award
Kate & Pippin, Martin Springett; Isobel Springett, photog. (Puffin Canada)
Silver Birch Express Award
Margaret and the Moth Tree, Brit Trogen and Kari Trogen (Kids Can Press)
Silver Birch Fiction Award
Making Bombs for Hitler, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Scholastic Canada)
Silver Birch Non-fiction Award
No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs, Rob Laidlaw (Pajama Press)
Red Maple Fiction Award
The Vindico, Wesley King (Putnam/Penguin)
Red Maple Non-fiction Award
Real Justice: Fourteen and Sentenced to Death, Bill Swan (Lorimer)
White Pine Award
Dark Inside, Jeyn Roberts (Simon & Schuster)
Le Prix Tamarac
Le mystère des jumelles Barnes, Carole Tremblay (Bayard Canada)
Le Prix Tamarac Express
Billy Stuart: 1. Les Zintrépides, Alain M. Bergeron; Sampar, illus. (Éditions Michel Quintin)
Le Prix Peuplier
Le zoo de Yayaho, Geneviève Lemieux; Bruno St-Aubin, illus. (Bayard Canada)
A memoir about the Canadian music industry, an exposé about the rise of the 1 per cent, and a corporate biography about the evolution of a ubiquitous franchise are among the finalists for the $20,000 National Business Book Award. The nominees are:
- True North: A Life in the Music Business by Bernie Finkelstein (McClelland & Stewart)
- Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland (Doubleday Canada)
- Double Double: How Tim Hortons Became a Canadian Way of Life One Cup at a Time by Douglas Hunter (HarperCollins Canada)
- The Power of Why by Amanda Lang (HarperCollins Canada)
The shortlist was selected by a jury chaired by Roger Martin, dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. The other jurors are Jane Cooney (founder of Books for Business), William Dimma (chairman emeritus of Home Capital Group), Peter Mansbridge, (host of CBC’s The National), Deirdre McMurdy (journalist and policy analyst), and Senator Pamela Wallin.
The winner will be announced May 28.
The Department of Canadian Heritage and the Competition Bureau have approved the merger of two of the country’s largest trade publishers: Bertelsmann-owned Random House of Canada and Pearson-owned Penguin Canada.
The merger, expected to take effect this summer, was announced in October. So far approval has been granted in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.
A press release from Penguin Canada notes that, once the merger is complete, Beterlsmann will own 53 per cent and Pearson will own 47 per cent of the new entity, Penguin Random House. It will encompass the two former companies’ publishing assets in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa, as well as Penguin’s China operations and Random House’s operations in Spain and Latin America.
“Pearson and Bertelsmann believe that the combined organisation, the world’s leading consumer publishing company, will have a stronger platform and greater resources to invest in rich content, new digital publishing models and high-growth emerging markets,” the release says.
Poet Lorna Crozier and kidlit author and advocate Sarah Ellis are co-winners of the 10th annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.
Crozier, a past winner of the Pat Lowther Award and Governor General’s Literary Award, is the author most recently of The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things (Greystone Books). Ellis is a librarian in North Vancouver and prolific book reviewer (including for Q&Q). She is the author of a handful of picture books and novels for young readers.
The pair will share the $5,000 prize, which will be presented May 4 by B.C. lieutenant governor Judith Guichon.
The co-winners were selected by a jury comprising 2012 winner Brian Brett, author of Trauma Farm (Greystone); Lynn Copeland, former dean of library services at Simon Fraser University; and Alma Lee, founder of the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival.
In a year that boasted collections from A.F. Moritz, Don McKay, and Roo Borson, the jury for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize (which covers books published in 2012) has opted to put the spotlight on several lesser-known poets.
The most renowned poet among the Canadian nominees is David W. McFadden, the veteran author of 35 books, who received the nod for What’s the Score? (published by Mansfield Press imprint Stuart Ross Books). McFadden was previously nominated for the prize in 2008 for his selected poems, Why Are You So Sad?
The other Canadian nominees are newcomers James Pollock and Ian Williams. Pollock, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, was nominated for his first full-length collection, Sailing to Babylon (Able Muse Press), which riffs on historical figures such as Henry Hudson, David Thompson, Glenn Gould, and Northrop Frye. (Pollock is also the author of a volume of criticism, You Are Here: Essays on the Art of Poetry in Canada, from The Porcupine’s Quill.)
Toronto-based Williams was shortlisted for Personals (Freehand Books), a follow-up to his debut collection You Know Who You Are (Wolsak and Wynn) and the short-story collection Not Anyone’s Anything (Freehand). According to the press material, the collection is a series of “almost-love poems” written in a variety of traditional poetic forms as well as forms of the poet’s own invention.
The jury, composed of poets Suzanne Buffam, Mark Doty, and Wang Ping, also selected four international nominees:
- Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems by Ghassan Zaqtan, translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah (Yale University Press)
- Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden (Giramondo Publishing)
- Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy (Copper Canyon Press)
A Canadian and international winner, each receiving $65,000, will be announced June 13. The seven finalists will read from their works at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on June 12.
It is with sadness that Q&Q notes the passing of a cherished colleague.
Susan Lawrence, who edited Q&Q’s Books for Young People section for 12 years beginning in 1996, died on Monday after a battle with cancer. During that period she worked with countless authors, contributors, and publicists, who will remember her warmth, her intelligence, and her keen editorial eye.
In addition to being a passionate advocate for children’s literature, Susan was a talented folk musician. After leaving Q&Q in 2008, she realized a lifelong ambition by recording an album of folk songs. (For those unfamiliar with Susan’s musical side, here’s a link to a 1991 episode of Morningside, in which she sings “Oh! Susanna” live on-air.)
An obituary will appear in today’s Toronto Star. Susan’s life will be celebrated on Saturday, April 13, at 3 p.m. at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church.
Anyone who would like to share their memories of Susan is encouraged to do so in the comments below.
A statement from his family described Achebe as “one of the great literary voices of all time” and noted that he was “a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him.”
Assessments of the author’s legacy are already pouring in. The CBC writes that Achebe’s “eminence worldwide was rivaled only by Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison and a handful of others” and that “Achebe was a moral and literary model for countless Africans and a profound influence on such American writers as Morrison, Ha Jin and Junot Diaz.”
The CBC also quotes African scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah on the importance of the 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, which has become a staple in North American schools: “It would be impossible to say how Things Fall Apart influenced African writing once observed…. It would be like asking how Shakespeare influenced English writers or Pushkin influenced Russians. Achebe didn’t only play the game, he invented it.”
In its preliminary obituary, The New York Times describes Achebe as “black Africa’s most widely read novelist and one of the continent’s towering men of letters.” An earlier interview with the author explains that Achebe came to live permanently in the U.S. following a 1990 car accident in Nigeria that left the author paralyzed from the waist down. In 2010, Achebe told the Times:
… [T]he most important thing about myself is that my life has been full of changes. Therefore, when I observe the world, I don’t expect to see it just like I was seeing the fellow who lives in the next room. There is this complexity which seems to me to be part of the meaning of existence and everything we value.
Achebe’s final novel, his fifth, was 1987′s Anthills of the Savannah. Since then his writing has included essays and a memoir, There Was a Country. Achebe was also a noted literary critic and, until his death, had been a professor at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
Journalist and author Heather Robertson has won the inaugural Speaker’s Book Award, which recognizes books by Ontario authors that reflect “the diverse culture and rich history of the province and of its residents.”
Both fiction and non-fiction titles were eligible for the prize, established last year by MPP Dave Levac, speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Robertson won for Walking into the Wilderness: The Toronto Carrying Place and Nine Mile Portage (published by Winnipeg’s Heartland Associates), which covers the geological and cultural history of the ancient paths and waterways connecting Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay.
Walking into the Wilderness was shortlisted alongside 15 other titles. They were selected by a committee comprising Levac, prize co-chair Graham Murray, University of Western Ontario professor Sid Noel, author and publisher Randall White, and legislative librarian Vicki Whitmell.
The other nominees were:
- Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz by John Bacher (Natural Heritage/Dundurn Press)
- Destination Algonquin Park: Tracks to Cache Lake and the Highland Inn by Donald Beauprie (General Store Publishing House)
- Misconceptions: Unmarried Motherhood and the Ontario Children of Unmarried Parents Act, 1921–1969 by Lori Chambers (University of Toronto Press)
- The Guardian: Perspectives on the Ministry of Finance of Ontario by Patrice Dutil (UTP)
- Elections in Oxford County, 1837–1875: A Case Study of Democracy in Canada West and Early Ontario by George Emery (UTP)
- Reinventing Brantford: A University Comes Downtown by Leo Groarke (Dundurn)
- Collections and Objections: Aboriginal Material Culture in Southern Ontario by Michelle A. Hamilton (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
- Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812 by James Laxer (House of Anansi Press)
- Beyond the Global City: Understanding and Planning for the Diversity of Ontario by Gordon Nelson (MQUP)
- Unbuilt Toronto: A History of the City that Might Have Been by Mark Osbaldeston (Dundurn)
- Tim Horton: From Stanley Cups to Coffee Cups by Don Quinlan (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
- Current Affairs: Perspectives on Electricity Policy for Ontario by Douglas Reeve, Donald N. Dewees, and Bryan W. Karney, eds. (UTP)
- Persistent Poverty: Voices from the Margins by Jamie Swift, Brice Balmer, and Mira Dineen (Between the Lines)
- Race on Trial: Black Defendants in Ontario’s Criminal Courts, 1858–1958 by Barrington Walker (UTP)
- A Short History of Ontario by Ed Whitcomb (From Sea to Sea Enterprises)
The dismantling of D&M Publishers is now complete, with official confirmation that New Society Publishers has found new ownership under some familiar names.
As Q&Q reported last week, former New Society co-owners Judith and Chris Plant, both of whom are creditors of D&M Publishers, have reacquired the Gabriola Island–based press, along with Carol Newell of Renewal Partners, an investment company that focuses on social justice and environmental issues.
The deal means that New Society, like Greystone and Douglas & McIntyre, will continue to acquire and release new titles. According to a press release, New Society’s existing distribution channels will remain unchanged.
In the press release, Judith Plant affirms the press’ activist mandate, saying, “Given climate change, ecological limits, the end of cheap energy, and the underlying economic and social collapse here and around the world, the party’s over, as New Society author Richard Heinberg succinctly puts it. We’re at a tipping point, and we need tools, techniques, strategies and inspiration for radical change, now.”
Launched in Canada in 1996, New Society was acquired by D&M Publishers in 2008.
According to documents filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the Plants received approval to reacquire New Society on Jan. 25, though the sale agreement is dated Dec. 20. A report from trustee The Bowra Group indicates the sale of shares in New Society totals $600,000.
The Canadian book world was cheered by the news, announced late Thursday, that Greystone Books has found new life under the ownership of Rodger Touchie’s Heritage House Publishing. But that’s not the only news affecting authors associated with D&M Publishers, of which Greystone was one of three publishing divisions.
According to documents filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia, two significant transactions were approved by the court on Jan. 25. In addition to the sale of the Greystone imprint for $480,000, shares of the Gabriola Island–based imprint New Society Publishers were also sold for $600,000.
The purchasers of the latter are New Society’s founders, Judith and Christopher Plant, as well as the investment firm Renewal Partners Company. The Plants had sold New Society to D&M Publishers in 2008 and were listed as major creditors when the new owner filed a notice of intention on Oct. 22.
That leaves only the Douglas & McIntyre imprint, whose authors include Wade Davis, Wayson Choy, and Johanna Skibsrud, looking for a purchaser or investor. According to a report submitted on Wednesday by the company’s trustee, The Bowra Group, an offer has been received for Douglas & McIntyre and an asset purchase agreement is being finalized. The trustee is seeking to extend creditor protection until April 4 in order to close the deal.
If such a deal were completed, D&M Publishers would avoid bankruptcy and be eligible to continue receiving federal and provincial grants.
If an extension is not granted, D&M Publishers would have until Feb. 18 to file a proposal.