Sharon Bala, Omar El Akkad shortlisted for Amazon First Novel Award

Six books ranging in topic from refugees and American politics, and in genre from horror to historical fiction have been shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award.

The winner will receive cash and prizes totalling more than $ 40,000, with the finalists receiving more than $ 4,000 in cash and prizes.

The winner will be announced May 22 at the Toronto Reference Library. The nominees are:

  • The Boat People, Sharon Bala (McClelland & Stewart), which shines a hopeful light on the life of refugees.
  • The Bone Mother, David Demchuk (ChiZine Publications), his debut horror novel, which was also on the long list for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
  • Dazzle Patterns, Alison Watt (Freehand Books), which begins the day of the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

The three-judge panel includes Irene Gammel, author, editor and Ryerson University’s Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture; Dimitri Nasrallah, winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Hugh MacLennan and First Book prizes, and author of three novels, most recently The Bleeds; and Donna Bailey Nurse, literary journalist, editor of Revival: An Anthology of Black Canadian Writing and author of the acclaimed series What’s a Black Critic To Do?

New this year is the Youth Author Award category. Authors between 13 and 17 were invited to submit a short story under 3,000 words. The winner of $ 5,000 and a mentorship lunch with editors of The Walrus magazine will be announced the week of May 22.

The Amazon First Novel Award was first established in 1976, and writers including Joy Kogawa, Michael Ondaatje and Madeleine Thien have all been winners.


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