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(Some) Alberta writers ineligible for Alberta award

The Alberta Readers’ Choice Award, a new prize jointly sponsored by the Edmonton Public Library and the Book Publishers Association of Alberta, is worth a cool $10,000 for the winner. But there’s a catch: Alberta-based authors published outside the province aren’t eligible to win the award. This means that Alberta resident Thomas Trofimuk can’t be nominated for his new novel, Waiting for Columbus, because it was published by Toronto-based McClelland & Stewart. On the other hand, Toronto resident Stuart Ross could win the award for his short story collection, Buying Cigarettes for the Dog, published by Calgary-based Freehand Books.

The Edmonton Journal points out that the prize was created to “promote the works of Alberta authors and publishers, and encourage the reading public to support literary works published in Alberta.” According to that metric, the inaugural edition of the prize can be deemed only partly successful: provincial publishers win out, while some indigenous authors get left out in the cold.

From the Journal:

The list of books on the prize’s website, www.albertareaderschoice.ca/long-list, includes authors from Toronto, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Virginia, as well as from Alberta.

“We have had a couple of reactions to that,” acknowledged Kieran Leblanc, executive director of the Book Publishers Association of Alberta.

“This is the first award. We’ll be doing some revisiting afterwards to tune it up or tweak it or whatever we need to do to make it better.”

The winning author, wherever he or she may hail from, will be announced next May.