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David Chariandy, Claire Cameron on Writers’ Trust fiction prize short list

David Chariandy, Claire Cameron on Writers’ Trust fiction prize short list
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Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal, has been shortlisted for the 2017 Rogers Writers Trust Fiction prize.  (David Kerr)  

Books

Wed., Sept. 27, 2017

The finalists for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize have been announced one day after the award was doubled to give $50,000 for the winner and $5,000 to each of the four finalists nominated for the prestigious prize, which recognizes the year’s best Canadian novel or short-story collection.

The five writers and books vying for this year’s award are:

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson for (House of Anansi Press)

The finalists were chosen by a jury made up of writers Michael Christie, Christy Ann Conlin and Tracey Lindberg from 141 books submitted by 57 publishers.

Chariandy also appeared on the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize long list earlier this month. If he wins both prizes, he’ll receive an unprecedented $150,000.

“Fifty-thousand dollars can be a life-changing amount for a writer,” said Mary Osborne, executive director of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, in a statement, speaking to the expanded prize money. “The Writers’ Trust is hugely grateful to Rogers for its strong commitment to this prize and for its long history of support for Canadian writers.”

Past winners of the Writers’ Trust prize, founded in 1997, include André Alexis , Austin Clarke, Alice Munro, Lawrence Hill and Emma Donoghue.

In 2014, the Scotiabank Giller Prize doubled its purse to $100,000 for the winner and $10,000 for each finalist. Sean Michaels was the first writer to win that enhanced prize.

The next of the “big three” national Canadian literary prizes, the Governor General’s Literary Awards, will announce its short list Oct. 4. Nominees won’t be vying for an enhanced payout: the amount for the winner still stands at $25,000, with each finalist receiving $1,000.

“More money and greater recognition for Canadian writers is always great news. We congratulate our award counterparts on this increase in support,” said Tara Lapointe, the GG Award’s director of outreach and business development. “We have no immediate plan to increase the prize value, which totals $448,000 and is paid through the Canada Council without corporate sponsorship.” (The awards include prizes in both English and French in seven categories including fiction, drama, translation, nonfiction, poetry and two for young people’s literature.)

Both the Writers’ Trust and Giller prizes are supported by corporate sponsors.

Winning multiple prizes among the “big three” is not unprecedented. In 2016, Madeleine Thien won both the Giller and the GG for her book Do Not Say We Have Nothing while, in 2015, Alexis won both the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (then worth $25,000) and the Giller, worth $100,000, for his novel Fifteen Dogs.

The winner of this year’s Writers’ Trust prize will be revealed Nov. 14 in a ceremony at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. There are seven literary awards in total being handed out that night with more than $250,000 in prize money up for grabs.

Those include the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for best short story, the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People.
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