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Rabindranath Maharaj in the coffee shop in Ajax, Ont., where he spent many afternoons writing his Trillium-winning novel.

Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic

Trinidad-born novelist Rabindranath Maharaj has won Ontario's $20,000 Trillium Book Award for The Amazing Absorbing Boy, named the best English-language book published by a citizen of the province in the past year.

Maharaj beat out five other finalists including Irish-Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue, author of the international bestseller Room.

Written largely in a doughnut shop in Ajax, Ontario, where Maharaj now lives, The Amazing Absorbing Boy is the deceptively simple story of a naive young immigrant set down on the streets of Toronto with no support apart from a resilient imagination anchored in the optimistic anti-reality of children's comics.

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Other finalists for the English-language fiction award included Michael Winter, nominated for The Death of Donna Whalen, and Toronto's James Fitzgerald, whose nominated book, What Disturbs Our Blood, won the 2010 Writers' Trust non-fiction award.

The same ceremony saw Ottawa novelist Estelle Beauchamp named winner of the Prix Trillium for Un souffle venu de loin, the story of a war-orphaned Gypsy girl growing up in Montreal. Jeff Latosik of Toronto won the $10,000 Trillium poetry prize for Tiny, Frantic, Stronger while Daniel Marchildon of Penetanguishine was named winner of the Trilllium award for French-language children's literature for La première guerre de Toronto.

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