We're now firmly in literary prize season, and the lists are coming thick and fast. The second of the three big annual fiction lists was announced today by the Writers' Trust of Canada — the venerable Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize shortlist consists of five titles selected by jurors Lauren B. Davis, Trevor Ferguson, and Pasha Malla.
It's an interesting and somewhat surprising list, leaving off a few titles that have thus-far proved to be 2016 favourites, including Madeleine Thein's Man Booker Prize-nominated Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Zoe Whittall's timely and powerful The Best Kind of People, and Mona Awad's Amazon First Novel Award winner, 13 Ways of Looking at Fat Girl.
Variety between the fiction lists makes for an interesting year, however, and the inclusion of two debut novelists (Katherena Vermette is an accomplished poet and Yasuko Thanh an acclaimed short fiction writer, but both are new to the novel form) makes for an especially exciting list. Kerry Lee Powell, another relatively new voice, is the only overlap between the Rogers list and the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist with her short fiction collection Willem de Kooning's Paintbrush. It's a good year for the Penguin Random House group, which captured three of the five spots on the list.
The 2016 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize shortlist:
- Michael Helm for After James (McClelland & Stewart)
- Anosh Irani for The Parcel (Knopf Canada)
- Kerry Lee Powell for Willem de Kooning's Paintbrush (Harper Avenue)
- Yasuko Thanh for Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains (Hamish Hamilton)
- Katherena Vermette for The Break (House of Anansi)
The winner of the $25,000 prize will be announced at a Writers' Trust event on November 2, which will also include the presentation of several other major awards, including the Journey Prize, the Weston Prize for Nonfiction, and several others.