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Three Canadian novels among Commonwealth Book Prize nominees

Three Canadian novels, all from independent publishers, have been shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize.

Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned (Goose Lane Editions), Olive Senior’s Dancing Lessons (Cormorant Books), and Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists (Gaspereau Press/D&M Publishers) will face 16 other titles for the £10,000 prize.

This is Nason’s first major nomination. Senior is shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, which will be presented on April 26, and Skibsrud won the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize for The Sentimentalists.

In previous years, regional prizes were awarded for Best Book and Best First Book, with the winners of those contests competing for the top prizes. In 2011, the Commonwealth Foundation revised the rules: only first books are eligible for the Commonwealth Book Prize. Canadians are competing against European authors at the regional level (instead of Caribbean authors as in previous years), with the winner of that contest moving on to compete against writers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Five regional winners will be named May 22, and the overall winners will be announced June 8. For a list of all nominees, visit the Commonwealth Book Prize website.