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Kai Thomas, Anuja Varghese, Christina Sharpe among Writers’ Trust award winners

Kai Thomas (Brooke Bridges), Anuja Varghese, Christina Sharpe

Debut novelist Kai Thomas, debut short story writer Anuja Varghese, and acclaimed writer and professor Christina Sharpe are among the winners of the 2023 Writers’ Trust Awards.

The winners of the annual awards were announced at a ceremony in Toronto on November 21, hosted by author and Globe and Mail editor Rachel Giese.

The winners of the three annual awards – the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers, and the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction – were chosen from shortlists announced earlier this year.

Debut novelist Kai Thomas won the $60,000 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for his novel In the Upper Country (Viking Canada). The jury, composed of authors francesca ekwuyasi, Alix Hawley, and M.G. Vassanji, said in their citation that “Thomas deftly and compassionately braids deeply engrossing stories within stories that explore a little-known aspect of Canadian history.” Thomas was one of five novelists shortlisted for this year’s prize.

Anuja Varghese won the $10,000 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers for her debut collection Chrysalis (House of Anansi Press). In their citation, a jury composed of authors S. Bear Bergman, Nicholas Dawson, and Sharanpal Ruprai wrote that “elements of queerness are sprinkled throughout, turning our perception of love stories on their head. The writing is focused and vivid with characters that are unapologetic and feisty; they love who they love and do not shy away from stepping into their powerful selves.” Varghese was one of three writers shortlisted for this year’s award.

Christina Sharpe won the $75,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for Ordinary Notes (Knopf Canada/Penguin Random House Canada). A jury composed of writers Eve Joseph, Michelle Porter, and Dan Werb wrote that “Sharpe invites the reader to witness the ordinary joys and sorrows of Black lives and how they are transformed within the everyday reality of systems of racial supremacy. In doing so, she creates a new narrative space at once intimate, deeply informed, and uncompromising.” Sharpe was one of five writers shortlisted for this year’s award.

Four authors were also honoured for their contributions to Canadian literature over the course of their careers: Laisha Rosnau won the $60,000 Latner Griffin Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize; Helen Humphreys won the $25,000 Matt Cohen Award; Kyo Maclear won the $25,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People; and Anosh Irani won the $25,000 Writers’ Trust Engel Findley Award.