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Riel Nason wins regional Commonwealth Book Prize

The Town That Drowned is Riel Nason's debut novel.

New Brunswick writer Riel Nason has won the regional Commonwealth Book Prize for Canada and Europe for her debut novel, The Town that Drowned (Goose Lane Editions).

The book is now in the running for the overall Commonwealth Book Prize, and will compete against other regional winners from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

The novel, about a girl’s coming of age in a town ordered to be flooded for a hydro dam, won the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award at the Atlantic Book Awards. The book was also a finalist for the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award.

The novel is inspired by true events. Nason grew up in Hawkshaw, N.B., near a town that was submerged in the 1960s with the creation of the Mactaquac Dam. She currently lives with her family in Quispamsis, N.B., and is a long time columnist for the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John.

The Commonwealth Book Prize winner will be announced at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in Wales on June 8. The other finalists are:

  • Jacques Strauss, South Africa, The Dubious Salvation of Jack V
  • Shehan Karunatilaka, Sri Lanka, Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew
  • Alecia McKenzie, Jamaica, Sweetheart
  • Cory Taylor, Australia, Me and Mr. Booker