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Paul Wells wins $10,000 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize

Two weeks after receiving the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing, Maclean’s politics editor Paul Wells has won the 2014 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize for The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006­– (Random House Canada).

In a press release, the jury praised Wells for his “lively, witty and perceptive insider, political portrait of Stephen Harper as a calculating, incremental politician.”

Wells was selected for the $10,000 prize from a shortlist of five titles, narrowed down from 40 submissions. The other nominees were:

  • P. Whitney Lackenbauer, The Canadian Rangers: A Living History (University of British Columbia Press)
  • David O’Keefe, One Day in August: The Untold Story Behind Canada’s Tragedy at Dieppe (Knopf Canada)
  • John L. Riley, The Once and Future Great Lakes Country: An Ecological History (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

The prize is awarded annually to “the best book on Canada, Canadians, and/or Canada’s place in the world published in the previous calendar year.” It honours Canadian newspaper editor John Wesley Dafoe, who worked for the Manitoba Free Press from 1901 to 1944.

Wells will be presented with the award in Winnipeg on May 27.

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Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch wins Pulitzer

Donna Tartt’s third novel, The Goldfinch (Little, Brown), has won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The 784-page bestseller, which beat out Philipp Meyer’s The Son and Bob Shacochis’ The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, was recently optioned for screen by producers of the Hunger Games series.

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall won the Pulitzer for biography; Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin won for non-fiction; and 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri won for poetry.



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Arthur Ellis Awards announce longlist for best novel

Crime Writers of Canada has announced the longlist for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing in the best novel category.

For the first time this year, the 10-book longlist is being announced in advance of the shortlists in all Arthur Ellis Awards categories, “in recognition of the increasing number and quality of submissions,” a press release says. The five-title shortlist will be announced April 24.

The nominees are:

  •  John Brooke, Walls of a Mind (Signature Editions)
  •  Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk, The Wolves of St. Peter’s (HarperCollins Canada)
  •  Sean Haldane, The Devil’s Making (Stone Flower Press)
  •  Lee Lamothe, Presto Variations (Dundurn Press)
  •  Michael McCann, The Rainy Day Killer (Plaid Raccoon Press)
  •  Robert Rotenberg, Stranglehold (Simon & Schuster Canada)
  •  Howard Shrier, Miss Montreal (Vintage Canada)
  •  Sean Slater, The Guilty (Simon & Schuster U.K.)
  •  Simone St. James, An Inquiry into Love and Death (Penguin)
  •  David Whellams, The Drowned Man (ECW Press)

Winners of the Arthur Ellis Awards will be announced at a gala in Toronto on June 5.

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Wayne Johnston, Red Green, Arthur Black among nominees for Stephen Leacock humour award

The nominees for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour were announced today at Lakehead University in Orillia, Ontario.

Black’s latest, Fifty Shades of Black, is up against previous nominee Bill Conall’s The Promised Land and Wayne Johnston’s The Son of a Certain Woman, which was longlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

The five  shortlisted books are:

  • Arthur Black, Fifty Shades of Black (Douglas & McIntyre)
  • Jane Christmas, And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life (Greystone Books)
  • Bill Conall, The Promised Land: A Novel of Cape Breton (Boularderie Island Press)
  • Wayne Johnston, The Son of a Certain Woman (Knopf Canada)
  • Steve Smith, Red Green’s Beginner’s Guide to Women (Doublesday Canada)

Five judges from across Canada and a small committee of readers from Orillia will select the winner, to be revealed on April 24 at the Best Western Mariposa Inn in Orillia.

The winner will receive a $15,000 cash prize provided by TD Bank Group and a silver Leacock Memorial Medal. Last year the prize went to Cassie Stocks for her novel Dance, Gladys, Dance (NeWest Press).

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Carson, Michaels, Goyette among Griffin nominees

The Griffin Poetry Prize finalists were announced today, revealing a strong all-female Canadian shortlist that includes two McClelland & Stewart authors and a third from Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau Press. Poet Jeramy Dodds, a finalist for the prize in 2009, presented the Canadian and international shortlists alongside prize founder Scott Griffin at a press conference in Toronto.

The Canadian shortlist is made up of Susan Goyette’s fourth collection, Ocean (Gaspereau); novelist and poet Anne Michaels’ Correspondences (M&S); and Anne Carson’s Red Doc> (M&S), the sequel to her 1998 poetic novel, Autobiography of Red. Goyette and Michaels are nominated for the first time, while Carson was the winner of the inaugural Griffin in 2001 for Men in the Off Hours.

Griffin himself says he is pleased with the shortlist. “Particularly on the Canadian side, the finalists are very strong this year,” he says. “The presentation of these books is beautifully done, too.”

M&S senior vice-president and publisher Ellen Seligman says she is “absolutely thrilled” with the two nominations and to be “in the company of such an extraordinary list across the board.” She adds that the nominations come on the heels of the press’s “relaunch” of its poetry program, which includes the appointment of a new poetry board comprised of Ken Babstock, Dionne Brand, and Kevin Connolly.

“The timing of this shortlist is really wonderful,” she says. The poetry relaunch “is bringing a lot of attention to an already celebrated program, and I think this helps highlight that.”

For his part, Gaspereau publisher Andrew Steeves is glad to see Goyette getting recognition for Ocean, the Halifax author’s first collection with the press.

“I think you [work] with the people that understand what you’re trying to do, wherever they are, and it’s really special when they’re in your own neighbourhood,” he says. “For me, Sue is part of the day-to-day life of the region I live in and is a recognized and valuable contributing player in the literary life of the [East Coast].”

Goyette’s nomination is the second for Gaspereau, following Jan Zwicky’s Griffin nod for Forge in 2011. “The Griffin is the only one of the ‘G’ prizes we haven’t won yet,” Steeves says, referring to the press’s 2001 Governor General’s Literary Award win for George Elliott Clarke’s Execution Poems and its 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize win for Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists.

Steeves says he isn’t worried about anything like a “Griffin effect” with the new nomination. “Being on the shortlist, there’s not much of an impact to sales,” he says. “Winning is maybe a little better for sales – maybe you’d sell 400 [additional] copies, but for a lot of poetry books that could double your sales.”

He adds that Ocean is already in its second printing. “Sue is out there all the time, just being a poet – like George Elliott Clarke – and that always helps to sell books,” he says.

The shortlist for the international Griffin comprises Rachael Boast’s Pilgrim’s Flower (Picador), Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (Wesleyan University Press), Carl Phillips’s Silverchest (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Colonies (Zephyr Press), written in Polish by Tomasz Różycki and translated by Mira Rosenthal.

Of the eight writers who made the Canadian and international shortlists, women outnumber men six to two.

“It’s interesting because I think 15 or 20 years ago it would have been the other way around,” says Griffin. “I don’t know whether you can read too much into it, because it just happens now that one year is stronger [with women] than another, but it goes to show that definitely poetry is not gender related.”

A three-member jury comprising Robert Bringhurst, Jo Shapcott, and C.D. Wright selected the shortlists from 539 books from 40 countries. The winners will each be awarded $65,000, while the seven finalists will receive $10,000. The winners will be announced at a private event on June 5, following a reading by the shortlisted authors at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on June 4.


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Photos: Politics and the Pen gala

Politicians and writers gathered at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa last week for the black-tie Politics and the Pen gala, a fundraiser for The Writers’ Trust of Canada. Maclean’s journalist Paul Wells was awarded the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for The Longer I’m Prime Minister (Random House Canada).

Click on the thumbnails to browse photos from the evening.

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Atlantic Book Awards reveals shortlists

The Atlantic Book Awards Society has announced the nominees for this year’s shortlists for its 10 literary prizes.

The winners will be revealed May 21 in Charlottetown during the week-long Atlantic Book Awards and Festival.

The shortlists are:

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature

  • Nix Minus One, Jill MacLean (Pajama Press)
  • The Power of Harmony, Jan L. Coates (Red Deer Press)
  • The Stowaways, Meghan Marentette (Pajama Press)

APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award

  • Acorn Press, Ni’n na L’Nu:  The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island, Jesse Francis and A.J.B. Johnston
  • Formac Publishing, Bluenose Adventure, Jacqueline Halsey; Eric Orchard, illus.
  • Goose Lane Editions, Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Terry Graff, ed.

Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing

Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction

  • Black Loyalists: Southern Settlers of Nova Scotia’s First Free Black Communities, Ruth Holmes Whitehead (Nimbus)
  • Merry Hell: The Story of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914–1919, Captain Robert N. Clements; Brian Douglas Tennyson, ed. (University of Toronto Press)
  • Scapegoat: The Extraordinary Legal Proceedings Following the 1917 Halifax Explosion, Joel Zemel (SVP Productions)

Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award

  • Blood on a Saint, Anne Emery (ECW Press)
  • Fallsy Downsies, Stephanie Domet (Invisible Publishing)
  • Waldenstein, Rosalie Osmond (Seraphim Editions)

Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration

Margaret and John Savage First Book Award

Prince Edward Island Book Award (fiction)

  • Dirty Bird, Keir Lowther (Tightrope Books)
  • Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House, Patti Larsen (Acorn Press)
  • Riptides: New Island Fiction, Richard Lemm, ed. (Acorn)

Prince Edward Island Book Award (non-fiction)

  • Lionel F. Stevenson: Fifty Years of Photographs/Cinquante ans de photographie (1962–2012), Pan Wendt (Acorn)
  • The Master’s Wife: The Book and the Place, John Flood, ed. (Penumbra Press)
  • Ni’n na L’Nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island, Jesse Francis and A.J.B. Johnston (Acorn)

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Paul Wells wins Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

Journalist and Maclean’s politics editor Paul Wells has won the Writers’ Trust’s Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006 —, published by Random House Canada. Wells was presented with the $25,000 prize at the Politics and the Pen gala, the Writers’s Trust’s annual fundraiser, in Ottawa on Wednesday.*

The jury comprised the Calgary Herald’s Licia Corbella, journalist Jane O’Hara, and Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders. Of the winning book the jury wrote:

Veteran political columnist Paul Wells has crafted a fast-paced, romping great read about a prime minister who is frequently described by the Parliamentary Press Gallery as dull, plodding, and inscrutable. Though viscerally funny and often biting, this book is never partisan or unfair. Impeccably researched, gorgeously written, and deeply insightful, The Longer I’m Prime Minister is an essential read for all political junkies.

Each of the nominees received $2,500. The other finalists were:

*Update: April 4: The story has been updated to note The Writer’s Trust’s involvement in the prize.

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2014 Lionel Gelber Prize awarded to Gary J. Bass

Princeton University politics professor Gary J. Bass is the winner of the 2014 Lionel Gelber Prize for The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide (Alfred A. Knopf). The $15,000 prize is awarded to the world’s best English-language non-fiction book on significant international issues.

Bass will receive the award and deliver a free public lecture at the U of T’s Campbell Conference Facility on April 24. Along with Foreign Policy magazine, the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs partners with the Lionel Gelber Foundation, named for the late Canadian diplomat, to deliver the annual award.

This year’s jury, chaired by William Thorsell, comprised 2013 winner Chystia Freeland, Timothy Garton Ash, Daniel W. Drezner, and Matias Spektor.

In a press release, Thorsell said, “Gary Bass draws a brilliant portrait of the tragic birth of Bangladesh. He produces shocking revelations about the role of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in backing Pakistan’s genocidal suppression of democracy in Bangladesh, even as American diplomats on the ground described the horrors around them. This is an epic tale told with verve and authority about war and diplomacy in toxic embrace.”

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League of Canadian Poets reveals award shortlists

The League of Canadian Poets kicked off National Poetry Month by announcing the shortlists for its three annual awards.

The Raymond Souster Award is given for a book of poetry by an LCP member published in the preceding year. The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award recognizes the best first book of poetry published by a Canadian, and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award is given for a book of poetry by a Canadian woman. The winners, each of whom receives $1,000, will be announced at the LCP Poetry Festival and Conference in Toronto on June 7.

The shortlists are:

Raymond Souster Award

  • seldom seen road, Jenna Butler (NeWest Press)
  • Alongside, Anne Compton (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
  • Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, Catherine Graham (Wolsak & Wynn)
  • Rebel Women, Vancy Kaspar (Inanna Publications)
  • Brilliant Falls, John Terpstra (Gaspereau Press)
  • Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain, Russell Thornton (Harbour Publishing)

Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

  • the place of scraps, Jordan Abel (Talonbooks)
  • Rove, Laurie D. Graham (Hagios Press)
  • Light Light, Julie Joosten (BookThug)
  • Surge Narrows, Emilia Nielsen (Leaf Press)
  • The Survival Rate of Butterflies in the Wild, Murray Reiss (Hagios)
  • Incarnate, Juleta Severson-Baker (Frontenac House Poetry)

Pat Lowther Memorial Award

  • The Hottest Summer in Recorded History, Elizabeth Bachinsky (Nightwood Editions)
  • Alongside, Anne Compton (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
  • Leaving Howe Island, Sadiqa de Meijer (Oolichan Books)
  • Whirr and Click, Micheline Maylor (Frontenac House Poetry)
  • Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway, Alexandra Oliver (Biblioasis)
  • Status Update, Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang (Oolichan)
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Book Pictures

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Lesley Strutt, Dean Steadman, Amanda Earl, Alastair Larwill and Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

Amanda Earl

Jewel of the Thames launch

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