Novelist Rabindranath Maharaj beat out heavy hitters Emma Donoghue and Michael Winter to take the 24th annual Trillium Book Award. Maharaj won the prize, which honours the best writing by Ontario authors, for his fourth novel, The Amazing Absorbing Boy (Knopf Canada). The Trillium jury’s citation reads, in part, “Both familiar and strange, this story of a large Canadian city seen through the wide eyes of a naive and inexperienced young immigrant ” wise in the culture of comic books ” is both hilarious and heartbreaking.”
Donoghue was nominated for her novel Room (HarperCollins Canada), which won the Rogers Writers’ Trust prize for fiction, and Winter was nominated for his work of “documentary fiction,” The Death of Donna Whalen. Also in the running for this year’s prize were James FitzGerald, for his memoir of his father, What Disturbs the Blood: A Son’s Quest to Reclaim the Past (Random House Canada); Ken Sparling, for his novel, Book (Pedlar Press); and Paul Vermeersch, for his poetry collection, The Reinvention of the Human Hand (McClelland & Stewart).
Jeff Latosik won the English-language poetry prize, which is open to authors of a first, second, or third book of poetry, for his collection, Tiny, Frantic, Stronger (Insomniac Press), which the jury said “considers states of durability and longevity in an age of ephemeral mores and instant gratification.” Also nominated for the award were Dani Couture, for Sweet (Pedlar Press); Shane Neilson, for Complete Physical (The Porcupine’s Quill); and Peter Norman, for At the Gates of the Theme Park (Mansfield Press).
The English-language jury for both prizes consisted of poet Kevin Connolly, novelist and playwright Cordelia Strube, and editor Meg Taylor.
The winner of the French-language Trillium Book Award was Estelle Beauchamp, for Un souffle venu de loin (Ã‰ditions Prise de parole), and the winner of the French-language Trillium Book Award for Children’s Literature was Daniel Marchildon, for La premiÃ¨re guerre de Toronto (Ã‰ditions David). The French-language jury consisted of journalist and senior public servant Jean Mohsen Fahmy; author Aristote Kavungu; and author Paul Savoie.
The winners of the Trillium Book Award in English and French each receive $20,000, and the winners of the English-language poetry award and the French-language children’s book award each receive $10,000.