Several high value awards were given out on Monday November 21st at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.
The Atwood Gibson Prize
Named in honor of Writers’ Trust co-founders and literary couple Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, The Atwood Gibson Prize recognizes writers of exceptional talent for the best novel or short story collection of the year. Atwood and Graeme, alongside fellow writers Margaret Laurence, Pierre Berton, and David Young, started the organization in 1976. The goal was to encourage a strong Canadian literary culture at home.
The Atwood Gibson Prize recognizes writers of exceptional talent for the best novel or short story collection of the year. A three-member, independent judging panel chooses the finalists, and the $60,000 winner is announced at the annual Writers’ Trust Awards, which took place on Monday, November 21st, at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. The award is generously funded by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of Research in Motion.
Kai Thomas’s novel In the Upper Country was the $60,000 winner at this year’s Atwood Gibson Writer Trust Fiction Prize on Tuesday. The jury selected this shortlist from 127 titles. Each finalist will receive $5,000.
In The Upper Country by Kai Thomas
Jury citation: “In this exceptional debut, Thomas deftly and compassionately braids deeply engrossing stories within stories. He immerses us in the novel’s compelling landscape where, despite an honest depiction of the effects and consequences of enslavement for Black and Indigenous peoples in Canada, hope remains palpable.”
Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue
Jury citation: “Donoghue offers readers a profoundly unique, riveting, fiercely emotional, and compelling novel about two girls in love and its effect on the rest of their lives. Masterfully and inventively plotted, Learned by Heart is a story of rebellious love and rebellious women in a dangerous time.”
The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
Jury citation: “Written in crystalline clear prose and brilliantly descriptive of a time and place, The Berry Pickers tells a moving story especially relevant to our times. The telling is compassionate, and the reader is left to mull on the events, the lives, and the society depicted.”
The Book of Rain by Thomas Wharton
Jury citation: “Wharton’s writing is clear and elegant, yet the story continually startles readers with the turns it takes as its characters seek what has been lost. He accomplishes this with precision and grace. The Book of Rain shimmers with imagination, depth, and optimism.”
A Grandmother Begins the Story by Michelle Porter
Jury citation: “This novel’s five Métis generations intertwine in wild, thrilling patterns, like the music that sustains them. Beautiful and daring, this book carries the weight of history lightly and is full of surprises and shifts. The story’s striking voices resound long after the final page.”
“This year’s finalists are a testament to the generational vitality of fiction in Canada,” said Charlie Foran, executive director of Writers’ Trust in a statement to CBC news. “From debut to mid-career to a former winner, the 2023 shortlist offers the sweep and range of a literary culture alive with vital, complimentary voices.”
Other Notable Winners
Other awards were given out including prizes for the year’s best in several categories: fiction, nonfiction, short story, poetry, and mid-career and lifetime achievement awards.
- Anuja Vargheses’s Chrysalis, claimed the $10,000 prize Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers
- Christina Sharpe’s book Ordinary Notes won the Hilary Weston Writers Trust Prize for nonfiction worth $75,000
- Laisha Rosnau won the $60,000 Latner Griffin Writer’s Trust Poetry Prize for her mid-life work
- Anosh Irani took home the $25,000 Writers’ Trust Engel Findley Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of a predominately fiction writer who is in the middle of their career.
- The $25,000 Matt Cohen Award went to Helen Humphreys to celebrate her lifetime of distinguished work.
- Kyo Maclear was awarded the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. This $25,000 prize recognizes notable contributions to children’s literature.
An avid book reader and proud library card holder, Angela is new to the world of e-Readers. She has a background in education, emergency response, fitness, loves to be in nature, travelling and exploring. With an honours science degree in anthropology, Angela also studied writing after graduation. She has contributed work to The London Free Press, The Gazette, The Londoner, Best Version Media, Lifeliner, and Citymedia.ca.