We're well and truly into the literary season now, with the Writers’ Trust of Canada today announcing the second of the major fiction prize lists of the year (following the Giller Prize's longlist announcement on September 6).
The Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize is now in its second year under its current name, though it takes the mantle from the Trust's longstanding fiction prize, which has run under different sponsorships since 1997, with past winners that include Alice Munro, Austin Clarke, and Lawrence Hill. It is one of the most coveted and prestigious fiction prizes in the country.
Last year, philanthropist Jim Balsillie donated a $3 million gift to the Trust to support Canadian literature through both the fiction prize and a newly created public policy writing prize. Part of the gift included renaming the fiction prize in honour of writers Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, who were amongst the co-founders of the Writers' Trust. Gibson passed away in 2019.
This year's list for the $60,000 prize, which is open to both novels and short story collections published in Canada, is a fascinating one for several reasons. It features exclusively finalists published by independently owned publishing houses, with multinational publishers Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster shut out of the 2022 list. It also features two works in translations and only one writer, Teebi, from Canada's most populous city. There is also no overlap between the Giller Prize's 14-book longlist and the Atwood Gibson shortilst this year. With the third and final major fiction award, the Governor General's Literary Award, not being announced until October 12, it remains to be seen if any one title scored more than one major nomination this year.
The 2022 Finalists for the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize:
- Manam by Rima Elkouri, translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott (Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd.)
- Some Hellish by Nicholas Herring (Goose Lane Editions)
- Querelle of Roberval by Kevin Lambert, translated by Donald Winkler (Biblioasis)
- Ezra’s Ghosts by Darcy Tamayose (NeWest Press)
- Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi (House of Anansi Press)
Writers' Trust executive director Charlie Foran praised the list for its "wonderful representation of the diversity of fiction writers in Canada and the important, nuanced stories they have to tell" and declared it a "tremendous homage to the value of literary translation and its necessity in making those stories more accessible".
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The winner will be announced on Wednesday, November 2 at the Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony hosted at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. The ceremony marks the first in-person celebration of the fiction prize since 2019.
A jury composed of Canadian fiction writers David Bergen, Norma Dunning, and Andrew Forbes selected the finalists. In total, 132 titles were submitted by 70 publishing imprints. Each finalist receives $5,000; the winner receives $60,000. Translators receive a portion of prize monies.