Organizers of the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award, now in its third year, have taken steps to quiet a muted strain of controversy that has attached itself to the prize since its inception.
The $10,000 award, organized by the Edmonton Public Library and voted on by Alberta readers, had until now been open to all books published in Alberta, regardless of the author’s origin or city of residence. But Alberta authors who happened to be published outside the province “ someone like, say, Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee Lynn Coady, who lives in Edmonton but is published by Toronto-based House of Anansi Press “ would be ineligible for the award.
That is all going to change this year, judging by new criteria posted to the EPL website:
This year, works of fiction and narrative non-fiction (i.e., first edition full-length novels, short story collections or books of poetry) will be accepted by any author who has been a resident of Alberta for a minimum of 12 consecutive months immediately prior to the publication of the submitted work, and who currently resides in Alberta, no matter where the book was published. The change makes this truly an Alberta award and recognizes the exceptional writing talent in our province while encouraging readers to support Alberta authors.
As it turns out, both of the prize’s prior winners “ Helen Waldstein Wilkes’ memoir Letters from the Lost (AU Press) and Michael Davie’s novel Fishing for Bacon (NeWest Press) “ are by authors currently residing in B.C.