The finalists for this year's Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, which were announced on Wednesday, should be twice as pleased as past nominees: This year's purse has been doubled, with $50,000 now awarded to the winner, making it one of the most-lucrative writing prizes in the country.
This year's shortlist is headed-up by David Chariandy, who last week was also longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize; the jury called his novel, Brother, about two young men growing up in Scarborough, "an exceptional coming of age story and a poignant meditation on love, loss, and humanity."
Also on the list is former Globe and Mail reporter Omar El Akkad, who was recognized for his dystopian debut novel, American War, set in the United States a century from now; in their citation, the jury said it "grips the reader from its first page and never lets go."
Carleigh Baker, a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail, was nominated for her "skillfully woven tapestry of" short stories, Bad Endings, while Claire Cameron was shortlisted for her third novel, The Last Neanderthal, about two women separated by thousands of years, which the jury praised as "engrossing and inventive" and "feminist literature of the highest order."
Finally, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson was shortlisted for This Accident of Being Lost, which blurs the line between poetry and prose, and which the jury called "shimmering stories etched with humour, anger, and above all, love and kindess."
This year's jury – authors Tracey Lindberg, Christy Ann Conlin and Michael Christie – considered 141 books before choosing the finalists, who each receive $5,000.
The winner of this year's prize, along with the rest of the Writers' Trust of Canada awards, will be announced on November 14.