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Anakana Schofield wrote a note to herself when she first learned she had been nominated as one of five writers competing for the 2012 Amazon.ca First Novel Award: "Light the holy candles, utter pagan prayers, boil the kettle!"

It worked. Vancouver-based Schofield's novel Malarky was named winner of the $7,500 prize at a ceremony in Toronto Wednesday evening, putting her in company with previous winners who include Michael Ondaatje, Anne Michaels and Rohinton Mistry. Published by Biblioasis of Windsor, Ont., Malarky "is the story of an Irish mother forced to look grief in the eye and of a wife who comes face-to-face with the mad agony of longing," according to prize organizers.

Other novels competing for the prize were People Park by Pasha Malla, Ru by Kim Thuy, The Rest is Silence by Scott Fotheringham and Y by Marjorie Celona.

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