Amazon Canada First Novel Award
Celebrating debut Canadian novelists since 1976
Winner | Shortlist | Judges | About
Michael Kaan wins $40,000 Amazon Canada First Novel Award for his book The Water Beetles
Congratulations to our first Youth Author Award winner
Robin de Valk-Zaiss for her short story Robin Bird.
Stay tuned, the Youth Author winner’s piece will be published by Fall 2018
The Water Beetles was chosen from a shortlist of six first novels by a distinguished panel of judges. “It’s so wonderful to know that the Canadian literary imagination is thriving from coast to coast,” said Donna Bailey Nurse. “These books encourage Canadians to look inward at themselves and outward at others: a shortlist that confirms we are the world.” Irene Gammel praised the books’ impressive empathy and range: “Collectively, these novels take the reader through violence, trauma, and grief, but they also return us to the fierce love and passion and resilience that are part of the human condition.” Dimitri Nasrallah remarked on the increasing diversity and self-awareness evinced by the shortlisted books, saying, “it’s encouraging to see more and more writers of different backgrounds finally find their way onto the page. The health of our literature is, more than ever, held together by a resurgent independent publishing community that spans from coast to coast.”
Michael was born in Winnipeg, the second child of a father from Hong Kong and a Canadian mother. His novel, a family saga about a young boy’s experience during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, is based in part on his father’s memoir, and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction in 2017.
Robin de Valk-Zaiss was born and still lives in the house her parents built in Mill Bay on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia. She is the second of three kids; Halle is older and Mowat is younger.
In August of 2017, sixteen-year-old Robin set off on an almost entirely self-funded exchange to Salvador, Brazil for her grade eleven year, a trip she describes as life-changing. She has lived with Brazilian families and met new friends from around the world, all the while determinedly learning Portuguese.
An avid reader (and Harry Potter fan), Robin will read from any genre and get thoroughly absorbed in the story. She also writes in her journal every day. She combines a love of animals, gardening, and the outdoors with a fierce determination in sports and life, never letting perceived limitations dictate her path.
Robin will return from Brazil in June of 2018. Her most recent week there was spent in the Amazon Rainforest.
The Amazon Canada First Novel Award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a Canadian first-time novelist. Since 1976, the First Novel Award has launched the careers of some of Canada’s most beloved novelists, including Michael Ondaatje, Joan Barfoot, Joy Kogawa, W. P. Kinsella, Nino Ricci, Rohinton Mistry, Anne Michaels, André Alexis, Michael Redhill, Mary Lawson, Colin McAdam, Joan Thomas, and David Bezmozgis.
Omar El Akkad,
The Judges and MC
2018 JUDGING PANEL
Donna Bailey Nurse is a Canadian literary critic. Her articles and reviews on writing and race have been instrumental in defining a tradition of Black Canadian literature. She is the author of two volumes of What’s a Black Critic To Do? (Insomniac Press: 2003, 2011) and the editor of Revival, a seminal anthology of Black Canadian fiction, poetry, and memoir (McClelland & Stewart, 2006). Donna is a contributor to Maclean’s, the Literary Review of Canada, The Walrus, and the Boston Globe. She appears regularly as a columnist for The Next Chapter on CBC Radio. Her essay collection Black Girls: Women of African Descent Write Their World will be released by Palimpsest later this year. She has recently moved back to her hometown of Pickering, Ontario.
Dr. Irene Gammel holds the Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture and at Ryerson University, Toronto, where she is a professor of English. She is also the director of the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre, dedicated to the study and preservation of early twentieth-century modern texts and artifacts. She is the author and editor of ten books, including the internationally acclaimed Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity: A Cultural Biography (2002). Well known for her scholarship on gender and modernism, Dr. Gammel has helped uncover the earliest roots of modern and feminist performance art, contributed to the consolidation of L. M. Montgomery Studies as an academic field, and claimed women’s confessional discourses as a sub-discipline of autobiographical studies.
Dimitri Nasrallah is the author of three novels, most recently The Bleeds (2018). He was born in Lebanon in 1977, during the civil war, and lived in Kuwait, Greece, and Dubai before moving to Canada in 1988. His first novel, Blackbodying (2005), won The Quebec Writers’ Foundation’s First Book Prize and was a finalist for the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal. His second novel, Niko (2011), won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, was nominated for CBC’s Canada Reads and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and went on to become a critical and commercial success in French. A film adaptation is currently in pre-production. He lives in Montreal, where he is fiction editor for the Esplanade Books imprint at Véhicule Press. He is currently translating Éric Plamondon’s 1984 Trilogy from French to English.
Shelagh Rogers is a veteran broadcast-journalist. She is the host and a producer of
The Next Chapter, an award-winning CBC Radio program devoted to writing in Canada. In 2011, she received an Order of Canada for promoting Canadian culture and for advocacy in mental health, adult literacy and reconciliation. That same year, she was named an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. She is the co-editor of Speaking My Truth: Reflections on Reconciliation and Residential School, Reconciliation and the Way Forward, and Speaking My Truth: The Journey to Reconciliation. She holds honorary doctorates from six universities, and in 2016 was the inaugural recipient of the Margaret Trudeau Award for Mental Health Advocacy. Shelagh and her producer Jacqueline Kirk share the 2015 Ontario Writers’ Conferences Cornerstone Award.
Youth Author Award
Thank you for your submissions to the Youth Author Short Fiction category of the 2018 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
You will receive notification the week of April 23 if your story is the winner, and a public announcement will be made the week of May 22.
New this year to the Amazon Canada First Novel Award is the Youth Author short-fiction category. Authors between the ages of 13 and 17 submit a short story under 3,000 words, and our panel of judges will choose the winner.
The prize for the winning short story is $5,000 and a mentorship lunch with The Walrus editors on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
Full competition rules here
The deadline was Friday, March 30, 2018 at 11:59PM
First Novel Award
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUBMISSION TO THE ADULT AUTHOR CATEGORY OF THE 2018 AMAZON CANADA FIRST NOVEL AWARD.
YOU WILL RECEIVE NOTIFICATION THE WEEK OF APRIL 16 IF YOUR NOVEL MAKES THE SHORTLIST, AND A PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT WILL BE MADE THE WEEK OF APRIL 23.
The shortlist will be announced in April 2018 and the winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at an award ceremony in Toronto attended by the city’s literary elite.
$40,000 Grand Prize
Full competition rules here
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