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Independent presses dominate Writers’ Trust shortlist

Independent publishers landed four of five spots on the 12th annual Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize shortlist, announced this morning at Toronto’s Ben McNally bookstore. The first of the big three fiction shortlists to be revealed this fall “ the Scotiabank Giller Prize will follow suit on Oct. 1, with the Governor General’s Literary Awards revealing its nominees the following day “ the Writers’ Trust nominees are a mix of veterans and relative newcomers.

Prolific poet and fiction writer Tim Bowling was nominated for his historical novel of the Civil War, The Tinsmith (Brindle & Glass), and Linda Spalding was nominated for The Purchase (McClelland & Stewart), another historical novel set in the U.S. during the period of slavery. Tamas Dobozy was nominated for Siege 13 (Thomas Allen Publishers), a collection of linked stories about the fallout from the Red Army invasion of Budapest in 1944“45. Rawi Hage, who was snubbed by the Giller jury for his third novel, Carnival (House of Anansi Press), found a place on the Writers’ Trust shortlist (Hage now has a perfect record, having also been nominated for his previous novels, De Niro’s Game and Cockroach.) The only overlap with the Giller longlist was another Anansi title, Alix Ohlin’s novel Inside.

“I was amazed at the number and breadth of Canadian publishers out there offering up talented writers,” said juror Drew Hayden Taylor, who was on hand to present the shortlist. “It’s very heartening for a country with a population of 34 million to have such a high level of writing technique and style. I’d match us up with the States any day.”

The other jurors for the prize were last year’s Giller winner, Esi Edugyan, and fellow Giller nominee Lynn Coady. The jury read 116 book from 45 publishers to come up with its shortlist.

The Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize offers a purse of $25,000, with each of the finalists receiving $2,500.

The shortlist for the $10,000 Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for short fiction was also revealed this morning. The three stories in contention are “To Have to Wait” by Kevin Hardcastle, published in The Malahat Review; “Manning” by Andrew Hood, published in Prism International; and “Crisis on Earth-X” by Alex Pugsley, published in The Dalhousie Review. The jury for this year’s prize is comprised of authors Michael Christie, Kathyrn Kuitenbrouwer, and Kathleen Winter.

Winners of both awards will be announced at a ceremony at the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto on Nov. 7.