Atlantic Book Award shortlist and surprising omissions

Toronto-based Linden MacIntyre leads the shortlist with three nominations.


The shortlist for the Atlantic Book Awards were announced this week and I have to say that this year's list is full of surprises, some of which are really exciting. First-time novelists impressed the judges: Shandi Mitchell, nominated for two awards for her debut novel, Under This Unbroken Sky, including the big Raddall prize, and Anna Quon, whose MIgration Songs I would have expected to shortlist for a first book award, is up for a Dartmouth Fiction Award. This is a promising sign for Atlantic Canadian fiction, which, lets face it, does tend to be dominated by a few big names.

But I'm really surprised by the exclusion of first-time authors Amy Jones (What Boys Like), Ryan Turner (What We’re Made Of) and Carla Gunn (Amphibian, which the Globe named as one of the top literary debuts of 2009). And of course we have to congratulate The Coast's Stephen Kimber (IWK: A Century of Caring for Families), the hardest working man in Atlantic Canadian non-fiction.

And then there's Linden MacIntyre's three nominations for The Bishop’s Man. I know it's in the rules—MacIntyre was born and raised here—but this feels like a "Sarah McLachlan ECMA" moment. There's no disputing that the book is award-worthy; it did win the Giller after all, but if we're talking books by authors living and working in Atlantic Canada, where is Lisa Moore's February? Such a pure, sophisticated and beautiful story.

There are many reasons why books aren't nominated, and perhaps those titles weren't submitted by publishers to begin with, but it's just another reason to remember, especially on this ECMA/Academy Award weekend, that awards aren't everything. And if you need more proof, hopefully you caught last night's Parks and Rec, where Ron and his moustache won "the Dorothy Everytime Smurf Girl Trophy for Excellence in Female Stuff.”

Here is the full list of nominated books. The Atlantic Book Awards and Festival runs April 10—18. Look for an updated schedule of events at

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature
Jill MacLean, The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Darlene Ryan, Five Minutes More (Orca Book Publishers)
Valerie Sherrard, Tumbleweed Skies (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)

APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award
Birds of Newfoundland Field Guide by Ian Warkentin and Sandy Newton (Boulder Publications)
By the Rivers of Brooklyn by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole (Breakwater Books Ltd.)
A Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Dictionary / Peskotomuhkati Wolastoqewi Latuwewakon by David A. Francis and Robert M. Leavitt (Goose Lane Editions)

Atlantic Independent Booksellers’ Choice Award
Michael Crummey, Galore (Doubleday Canada)
Linden MacIntyre , The Bishop’s Man (Random House Canada)
David Adams Richards, God Is. (Doubleday Canada)

Atlantic Poetry Prize
Anne Compton, Asking Questions Indoors and Out (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Tonja Gunvaldsen Klaassen, Lean-To (Gaspereau Press)
Zachariah Wells, Track & Trace (Biblioasis)

Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction)
George Elliott Clarke, I & I (Goose Lane Editions)
Linden MacIntyre , The Bishop’s Man (Random House Canada)
Anna Quon, Migration Songs (Invisible Publishing)

Dartmouth Book Award (Non-fiction)
Greg Cochkanoff and Bob Chaulk, SS Atlantic: The White Star Line’s First Disaster at Sea (Goose Lane Editions)
Stephen Kimber, IWK: A Century of Caring for Families (Nimbus Publishing)
Anne Murray with Michael Posner, All of Me (Knopf Canada)

Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing
Raoul R. Anderson and John K. Crellin (editors), Mi'sel Joe: An Aboriginal Chief's Journey (Flanker Press)
Greg Cochkanoff and Bob Chaulk, SS Atlantic: The White Star Line’s First Disaster at Sea (Goose Lane Editions)
Mike Heffernan, Rig: An Oral History of the Ocean Ranger Disaster (Creative Publishing)

Evelyn Richardson Memorial Literary Prize for Non-fiction
Jason I. Brown, Our Days Are Numbered (McClelland and Stewart)
Harry Bruce, Page Fright (McClelland and Stewart)
John DeMont, Coal Black Heart (Doubleday Canada)

Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Illustration
Kathy (HildaRose) Kaulbach, Johnny and the Gipsy Moth by Deannie Sullivan-Fraser (Tuckamore Books, an imprint of Creative Publishing)
Scott A. Keating, What Colour is the Ocean? by Gary Collins with Maggie Rose Parsons (Flanker Press)
Marie Moore, Cape Breton Wonders by Shirley Everett and Chris Augusta Scott (Cape Breton University Press)

Margaret and John Savage First Book Award
Binnie Brennan, Harbour View (Quattro Books)
Greg Malone, You Better Watch Out (Knopf Canada)
Shandi Mitchell, Under This Unbroken Sky (Penguin)

Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Michael Crummey, Galore (Doubleday Canada)
Linden MacIntyre, The Bishop’s Man (Random House)
Shandi Mitchell, Under This Unbroken Sky (Penguin)

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