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Anakana Schofield wins Amazon.ca First Novel Award

Vancouver-based Anakana Schofield was announced as the winner of the 2012 Amazon.ca First Novel Award yesterday evening. The Irish-Canadian author of Malarky (Biblioasis) was presented with a $7,500 cheque at a ceremony hosted by Jian Ghomeshi at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel.

The other finalists for the award were Marjorie Celona for Y (Hamish Hamilton Canada), Scott Fotheringham for The Rest Is Silence (Goose Lane Editions), Pasha Malla for People Park (House of Anansi Press), and Kim Thúy for Ru (Random House Canada).

The jury comprised The Writers’ Union of Canada executive director John Degan, author Alexei Zentner, and Meaghan Strimas, academic coordinator for creative writing at the University of Guelph. The jury selected the winner from a shortlist chosen by Quill & Quire editor Stuart Woods.

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Kim Thuy shortlisted for Amazon.ca First Novel Award

Montreal author and Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Kim Thúy has been named a finalist for the 2012 Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

Thúy’s debut novel, Ru, was first published in 2009 by Quebec’s Libre Expression, winning the Governor General’s Literary Award for French-language fiction. In 2012, Random House Canada published the English-language version, translated by Sheila Fischman, as part of its New Face of Fiction program.

Chosen by Q&Q editor Stuart Woods, the five First Novel Award nominees are:

  • Y, Marjorie Celona (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
  • The Rest Is Silence, Scott Fotheringham (Goose Lane Editions)
  • People Park, Pasha Malla (House of Anansi Press)
  • Malarky, Anakana Schofield (Biblioasis)
  • Ru, Kim Thúy; Sheila Fischman, trans. (Vintage Canada)
The winner, who receives $7,500, will be selected by a separate jury. The announcement will take place April 24 at an event in Toronto.

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In the July/August issue of Q&Q: fall’s most anticipated books

FALL PREVIEW

A first look at the season’s most anticipated books

Fiction: Susan Swan’s long-awaited prequel to The Wives of Bath; Alice Munro’s new collection; Matthew Tierney’s science-inspired poetry; and more

Non-fiction: Neil Young’s rock ’n’ roll memoir; Andrew Nikiforuk’s oil-industry polemic; Julie Devaney’s unique medical memoir; and more

Books for young people: Orca’s adventure series debut; Margaret Atwood’s latest alliterative picture book; Susan Juby’s dystopian vision; and more

International books: Chinua Achebe’s civil war memoir; Ian McEwan’s literary spy novel; Zadie Smith’s new fictional direction; and more

FROM THE EDITOR
For Literary Press Group: the good news came just in time

FRONTMATTER
The delicate art of the author photo

How metadata improves online visibility

Emily Schultz’s blonde ambition

Northern retailer Chat Noir Books’ community-oriented approach

Snapshot: Black Bond Books co-owner Cathy Jesson

Cover to cover: Fran Kimmel’s The Shore Girl

REVIEWS
Inside by Alix Ohlin

Signs and Wonders by Alix Ohlin

People Park by Pasha Malla

Gay Dwarves of America by Ann Fleming

Y by Marjorie Celona

Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

Mr. Churchill’s Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book that Defined the “Special Relationship” by Peter Clarke

PLUS more fiction, non-fiction, and poetry

BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
Uncle Wally’s Old Brown Shoe by Wallace Edwards

Old MacDonald Had Her Farm by JonArno Lawson; Tina Holdcroft, illus.

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

PLUS more fiction, non-fiction, and picture books

THE Q&Q/BOOKNET CANADA BESTSELLERS

THE LAST WORD Pasha Malla on why the most affecting literature thumbs its nose at the rules

Subscribe to Q&Q
Get the digital edition

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Fall preview 2011: Canadian fiction

In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the fall season’s biggest books.

NOVELS

One of the most anticipated releases of the fall season is surely the new novel from internationally acclaimed author Michael Ondaatje, his first since 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award winner Divisadero. Set in the early 1950s, The Cat’s Table (McClelland & Stewart, $32 cl., Sept.) tells the story of an 11-year-old boy crossing the Indian Ocean on a liner bound for England, and the mysterious prisoner shackled on board. • Also from M&S is Guy Vanderhaeghe’s first novel in eight years. Set in the late 19th-century Canadian and American West, A Good Man ($32.99 cl., Sept.) is the third book in a loose trilogy that also includes The Last Crossing (2003) and The Englishman’s Boy, which won the 1996 Governor General’s Literary Award. • A third GG winner has a new novel out this season: David Gilmour, who won in 2005 for his previous novel, A Perfect Night to Go to China. Gilmour returns with The Perfect Order of Things (Thomas Allen Publishers, $26.95 cl., Sept.), the story of a man who revisits traumatic and life-changing incidents from his past.

Marina Endicott follows up her Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted 2008 novel Good to a Fault with The Little Shadows (Doubleday Canada, $32.95 cl., Sept.), about three sisters who become vaudeville singers following the death of their father. • Acclaimed novelist Helen Humphreys returns with an historical novel set in France during the Napoleonic period. The Reinvention of Love (HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 cl., Sept.) is about a French journalist whose affair with Victor Hugo’s wife causes a scandal (as it might be expected to do).

Brian Francis’s debut novel, Fruit, was a runner-up in the 2009 edition of CBC’s battle of the books, Canada Reads. His second novel, Natural Order (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Aug.), tells the story of a mother who is forced to confront the secrets she has kept about her son when her carefully constructed life is overturned by a startling revelation. • Kevin Chong returns to fiction with his first novel in a decade. Beauty Plus Pity (Arsenal Pulp Press, $17.95 pa., Sept.) follows an Asian-Canadian slacker in Vancouver whose incipient modelling career is derailed by the death of his father and the sudden departure of his fiancée.

Requiem (HarperCollins Canada, $32.95 cl., Sept.), the third novel from Frances Itani, is about a Japanese-Canadian who embarks upon a cross-country journey of discovery following the death of his wife. • Anita Rau Badami follows her best-selling novels Tamarind Mem and The Hero’s Walk with Tell It to the Trees (Knopf Canada, $32 cl., Sept.), about the Dharma family – the authoritarian Vikram, the gourmand Suman, and the old storyteller Akka. When the Dharmas’ tenant, Anu, turns up dead on their doorstep, the family’s long-buried secrets begin to boil over. • Gayla Reid returns with her first novel since 2002’s Closer Apart. Set during the Spanish Civil War, Come from Afar (Cormorant Books, $32 cl., Aug.) tells the story of an Australian nurse who falls into a relationship with a Canadian soldier from the International Brigade.

Haitian expat Dany Laferrière is back with his third novel in translation in three years. The Return (Douglas & McIntyre, $22.95 pa., Aug.) tells the story of a 23-year-old Haitian named Dany who flees Baby Doc Duvalier’s repressive regime and relocates to Montreal. Thirty-three years later, Dany learns of his father’s death in New York City, and plots a return to his native country. David Homel translates. • Another Montreal resident, poet Sina Queyras, has a novel out this fall, the author’s first. Autobiography of Childhood (Coach House Books, $20.95 pa., Oct.) is about one day in the lives of five siblings haunted by the death of a brother years before. • Infrared (McArthur & Company, $29.95 cl., Sept.), the new novel by Nancy Huston, is about a photographer who travels to Tuscany with her father and stepmother. Employing internal dialogues with the photographer’s mental doppelgänger, Huston opens up her hero for exposure and provides an intimate picture of her interior life.

CanLit mainstay David Helwig returns with a novella, his first since 2007’s Smuggling Donkeys. Killing McGee (Oberon, $38.95 cl., $18.95 pa., Oct.) tells the story of a professor’s dual obsessions with the assassination of D’Arcy McGee and the disappearance of one of his students. • Toronto-based poet Dani Couture returns with her first novel, a surreal and iconoclastic take on that perennial CanLit staple: the family drama. Algoma (Invisible Publishing, $19.95 pa., Oct.) tells the story of a family attempting to cope with the aftermath of a young child falling through the ice and drowning. • Shari Lapeña also has a novel about a perennial CanLit concern: raising money to allow one time to write poetry. Happiness Economics (Brindle & Glass, $19.95 pa., Sept.) tells the story of a stalled poet who takes a job writing advertising copy to start a poetry foundation.

Jamaican-born novelist, poet, and non-fiction author Olive Senior returns to long-form fiction with Dancing Lessons (Cormorant, $22 pa., Aug.), about a woman looking back on her life after a hurricane destroys her home. • Memoirist Frances Greenslade (A Pilgrim in Ireland, By the Secret Ladder) has a debut novel out this August. Shelter (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl.) is a coming of age story about two sisters searching for their mother, who abandoned them after their father was killed in a logging accident.

Not one, but two novels this season extend the burgeoning CanLit focus on towns that have been/are about to be flooded (after Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists, Anne Michaels’ The Winter Vault, and Michael V. Smith’s Progress). Tristan Hughes’s Eye Lake (Coach House, $19.95 pa., Oct.) is about the town of Crooked River, Ontario. Named for a river that was diverted to make way for a mine, the town harbours secrets that surface when the river reclaims its original course. • And in September, Goose Lane Editions will publish Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned ($19.95 pa.), about the suspicions, secrets, and emotions that flare up when the township of Haverton is scheduled to be flooded to allow for the construction of a massive dam.

Edward Riche follows up his Thomas Head Raddall Award winner The Nine Planets with Easy to Like (House of Anansi Press, $29.95 cl., Sept.), a satire about a screenwriter and oenophile who dreams of travelling to Paris, but is trapped in Canada by an expired passport and a growing Hollywood scandal. Relocating to Toronto, he bluffs his way into the upper echelons of the CBC. • Former president and CEO of Penguin Canada, David Davidar was forced out of his position under a cloud of scandal after accusations of sexual harassment. Davidar’s new novel, Ithaca (M&S, $29.99 cl., Oct.), is, perhaps not coincidentally, about the rise and fall of a publishing star.

Canadian literary icon Michel Tremblay returns with a new novel, the first in a trilogy. Set in 1913, Crossing the Continent (Talonbooks, $18.95 pa., Oct.) takes the author’s characters out of Quebec for the first time, to tell the backstory of the people who populate his Chroniques du Plateau-Mont-Royal series. Long-time Tremblay collaborator Sheila Fischman translates.

A resident of St. John’s, Newfoundland, lately one of the most fertile spots for Canadian writing, Michelle Butler Hallett crafts genre-busting stories and novels that frequently experiment with gender and perspective. Her new novel, Deluded Your Sailors (Creative Book Publishing, $21.95 pa., Sept.), focuses on the culture industry from the perspective of Nichole Wright, who makes a discovery that puts a government-funded tourism project in jeopardy, and a shape-shifting minister named Elias Winslow. • Another Newfoundland native, Kate Story, has a novel out with Creative this season. The follow-up to 2008’s Blasted, Wrecked Upon This Shore ($21.95 pa., Sept.) tells the story of Pearl Lewis, an emotionally damaged, charismatic woman who is seen at different stages in her life.

In 1972, Christina Parr returns to her hometown of Parr’s Landing, a place she fled years earlier. The dirty secret of Parr’s Landing? A 300-year-old vampire resides in the caves of the remote mining town. Christina learns why she should have stayed away in Michael Rowe’s Enter, Night (ChiZine Publications, $17.95 pa., Oct.). • English literature professor Janey Erlickson struggles to make headway in her academic career while caring for a tyrannical toddler in Sue Sorensen’s comic novel A Large Harmonium (Coteau Books, $21 pa., Sept.). • Paul Brenner, a Vancouver lawyer, dines with his son, Daniel, one Friday evening. The next day, Brenner receives word that his son has been murdered. Hold Me Now (Freehand Books, $21.95 pa., Oct.), the first novel from Stephen Gauer, examines a father’s grief and a lawyer’s faith in the legal system.

SHORT FICTION

Anyone who has ever wondered what might transpire if the author of Bigfoot’s autobiography were to illustrate a story collection by Canada’s reigning postmodern ironist can stop wondering. October sees the publication of Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People (Random House Canada, $24 cl.), the first collaboration between author Douglas Coupland and well-known illustrator Graham Roumieu.

D.W. Wilson currently lives in London, England, but is a native of B.C.’s Kootenay Valley. The winner of the inaugural Man Booker Prize Scholarship from the University of East Anglia, Wilson’s debut collection, Once You Break a Knuckle (Hamish Hamilton Canada, $32 cl., Sept.), is a suite of stories about good people doing bad things.

Novelist Anne DeGrace has her first collection of short stories on tap for September. Flying with Amelia (McArthur & Company, $29.95 cl.) spans the 20th century and crosses vast swathes of territory. Wireless telegraphy, German POWs in Manitoba, the Great Depression, and the FLQ crisis all crop up in her stories. • David Whitton’s story “Twilight of the Gods” was included in the 2010 sci-fi anthology Darwin’s Bastards. The story also appears in Whitton’s first solo collection, The Reverse Cowgirl (Freehand, $21.95 pa., Oct.), which sports the most sexually suggestive title for a collection of CanLit stories since Pasha Malla’s The Withdrawal Method.

Toronto writer Rebecca Rosenblum follows up her Metcalf-Rooke Award–winning debut collection Once (a Q&Q book of the year for 2009) with The Big Dream (Biblioasis, $19.95 pa., Sept.), a collection of linked stories about the lives of workers at Dream, Inc., a lifestyle-magazine publisher. • The Maladjusted (Thistledown Press, $18.95 pa., Sept.), Toronto writer Derek Hayes’ debut collection, focuses on people who run afoul of the dictates of polite society. • Also from Thistledown, Britt Holmström’s Leaving Berlin ($18.95 pa., Sept.) examines contemporary women in both Canadian and European settings.

The fine print: Q&Q’s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have appeared in previous previews do not appear here.

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Malla, Dodds take home Trillium Book Awards

Youth and inexperience won the day in the English-language categories of the 22nd annual Trillium Book Awards luncheon, which took place earlier this afternoon in Toronto. The $20,000 English Book Award went to The Withdrawal Method (House of Anansi Press), the debut short-story collection by 31-year-old Pasha Malla, while the $10,000 English Poetry Award went to Crabwise to the Hounds (Coach House Books), the debut of 33-year-old Jeramy Dodds. (The Trilliums honour works by Ontario authors.)

Dodds, who lost the recent Griffin Poetry Prize to veteran A.F. Moritz, accepted his award by saying that he wished he’d brought a crash helmet in case he fainted at the podium, and that maybe he would use his prize money to buy one afterward. Beyond that, he simply thanked the staff of Coach House and his editor there, fellow Trillium nominee Kevin Connolly (who was shortlisted for his poetry collection Revolver), for encouraging him to press on with the collection even when it consisted of barely more than two poems.

Pasha Malla, meanwhile, accepted his award with his father at his side, and rather than talk about himself, he mostly talked about the new Pixar movie Up and the lessons it contains for budding authors. After his speech, Malla told Q&Q Omni that he is currently at work on his first novel, People Park, which is due out from Anansi sometime in 2010. He’s already completed about 150 pages, and he hopes to finish the rest when he does a residency later this year at Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon.

Malla beat out several more high-profile authors – Nino Ricci and Helen Humphreys – as well as Ibi Kaslik and Charles Wilkins. The jurors for both English-language awards were Q&Q‘s own review editor Steven Beattie, publishing industry veteran Meg Taylor, and author Emily Schultz.

The French language awards, meanwhile, went to Marguerite Andersen for her novel Le figuier sur le toit (Éditions L’Interligne) and to Paul Prud’Homme for his children’s book Les Rebuts: Hockey 2 (Éditions du Vermillon).

English Book Award ($20,000):
Pasha Malla, The Withdrawal Method (House of Anansi Press)

English Poetry Award ($10,000):
Jeramy Dodds, Crabwise to the Hounds (Coach House Books)

French Book Award ($20,000):
Marguerite Andersen, Le figuier sur le toit (Éditions L’Interligne)

French Children’s Literature Award ($10,000):
Paul Prud’Homme, Les Rebuts: Hockey 2 (Éditions du Vermillon)

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Bookmarks: Toronto’s newest used bookstore, and more

  • Re: Reading, Toronto’s newest used bookstore, opens its doors on Saturday. (The store is located on the Danforth, not far from area stalwart Book City, as well as newcomers Type Books and Circus.)
  • The shortlists for the 2009 Joe Shuster Awards, which celebrate Canadian comics creators, include Seth, Jeff Lemire, and Mariko Tamaki.
  • A close reading of Agatha Christie’s oeuvre by University of Toronto profs reveals that the mystery author may have suffered from Alzheimer’s.
  • Pasha Malla’s short-story collection, The Withdrawal Method, sports a handsome new cover for its U.S. release by Soft Skull Press. Here, the Toronto author is interviewed by BookSlut.
  • Wired reports that none other than Microsoft is leading the charge against the Google Book Search court settlement.

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National Post hosts online Giller roundtable

In preparation for tomorrow’s Scotiabank Giller Prize gala award ceremony, the National Post has recruited a cadre of industry insiders, authors, and commentators for a special online roundtable about literary awards and their effects on the nominated titles.

The panellists are:

Moderators:
Brad Frenette and Mark Medley, National Post

Guests:
Doug Pepper, president and publisher, McClelland & Stewart
Lewis DeSoto, author of Blade of Grass, longlisted for the Booker Prize
Nino Ricci, author of The Origin of Species, 2008 Governor General’s Literary Awards nominee
Yvonne Hunter, director of marketing and publicity, Penguin Canada
Vincent Lam, author of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner
Sarah MacLachlan, president of House of Anansi
Douglas Hunter, author of God’s Mercies, 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award nominee
Martha Kanya-Forstner, editorial director, Doubleday Canada
Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans, 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour winner
George Murray, moderator of Bookninja.com

Although he’s not on the official list, it appears that Pasha Malla, author of the Giller-longlisted story collection The Withdrawal Method, is also on hand for the discussion.

So far, the questions have ranged from the inane — Where will you be on Giller night? — to the provocative — Are we witnessing the emergence of a new generation of CanLit superstars?

In the early going, Doug Pepper has invited Martha Kanya-Forstner out for drinks prior to the gala, Pasha Malla has declared Lee Henderson’s novel The Man Game to be “badass,” and Nino Ricci has called literary juries “just three people horse-trading.” This roundtable discussion might be worth following.

There’s also a ticker at the bottom of the roundtable keeping track of people’s votes for which shortlisted novel should win tomorrow night. As of 12:34 this afternoon, the leader is Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce, with 43% of the vote, followed by Anthony De Sa’s Barnacle Love, with 23%.

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Anansi giving Malla book away

Earlier this week, Q&Q Omni reported on a few Canadian publishers and authors who are trying out the free-digital-download model. Now House of Anansi Press has announced that it’s doing the same thing. Unlike other Canadian initiatives, though, Anansi’s is for a brand-new frontlist title, albeit for a very limited time. Pasha Malla’s debut short-story collection, The Withdrawal Method, can be downloaded from the Anansi site at no charge until this Sunday, May 25. The Q&Q review of The Withdrawal Method is here.

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