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The start of the COVID-19 pandemic threw the publishing industry into turmoil, with publishers delaying the release of many books, authors' book tours cancelled and bookstores shuttered for much of the spring. The gala awards events that would normally fill this season have turned to online presentations to celebrate the best of new fiction and non-fiction. Below you’ll find all the major Canadian book awards along with this year’s winners – or dates they’ll be announced – and our reviews of the nominees. Time to add to your reading list!
Scotiabank Giller Prize
The Giller is awarded annually to the author of the best Canadian novel, graphic novel or short story collection published in English. We asked publishing insiders who they predict will win this year’s prize.
- David Bergen’s Here the Dark (Biblioasis)
- Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife (McClelland & Stewart)
- Shani Mootoo’s Polar Vortex (Book*hug)
- Gil Adamson’s Ridgerunner (House of Anansi Press)
- Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel (HarperCollins Canada)
The winner receives $100,000. Each finalist receives $10,000.
Canadian authors Mark Sakamoto, Eden Robinson and David Chariandy, Canadian British novelist Tom Rachman, and literary critic for The Guardian Claire Armitstead.
Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Awarded to the best Canadian novel or short story collection of the year.
- Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians (Harper Perennial)
- Maria Reva’s Good Citizens Need Not Fear (Knopf Canada)
- Thomas King’s Indians on Vacation (HarperCollins Canada)
- Gil Adamson’s Ridgerunner (House of Anansi Press)
- Zsuzsi Gartner’s The Beguiling (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
Gil Adamson for her novel Ridgerunner, the follow-up to her 2007 novel The Outlander.
The winner receives $50,000 while finalists receive $5,000.
Authors Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Waubgeshig Rice and Yasuko Thanh.
Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
Canada’s richest non-fiction literary award.
- Steven Heighton’s Reaching Mithymna: Among the Volunteers and Refugees on Lesvos (Biblioasis)
- Tessa McWatt’s Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging (Random House Canada)
- David Neel’s The Way Home (UBC Press)
- Lorna Crozier’s Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats) (McClelland & Stewart)
- Jessica J. Lee’s Two Trees Make a Forest: Travels Among Taiwan’s Mountains and Coasts in Search of My Family’s Past (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
The winner receives $60,000 and finalists receive $5,000 each.
Poet Helen Knott, former Globe and Mail journalist Sandra Martin and author Ronald Wright.
Cundill History Prize
Administered by McGill University and awarded for the best English-language history writing that is literary, shows originality and has broad appeal. Read our interviews with the nominees, and read excerpts from the nominated books.
- Camilla Townsend’s Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs (Oxford University Press USA)
- Vincent Brown’s Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Belknap Press at Harvard University Press)
- William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy: the Relentless Rise of the East India Company (Bloomsbury Publishing)
American scholar and author Camilla Townsend for Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs.
The winner receives $75,000 US and runners up each get $10,000 US.
Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at Oxford University; Anne Applebaum, staff writer for The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University; Lyse Doucet, chief international correspondent for the BBC; Eliga Gould, professor of history at the University of New Hampshire; and Sujit Sivasundaram, professor of world history at the University of Cambridge.
Shaughnessy Cohen Prize
Awarded annually to a work of literary non-fiction on a political subject relevant to Canadian readers.
- Adam Chapnick’s Canada on the United Nations Security Council: A Small Power on a Large Stage (UBC Press)
- Kent Roach’s Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
- Jonathan Manthorpe’s Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada (Cormorant Books)
- Harold R. Johnson’s Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada (McClelland & Stewart)
- Beverley McLachlin’s Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law (Simon & Schuster Canada)
Former Supreme Court justice Beverley McLachlin’s memoir Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law.
The winner receives $25,000. Finalists each receive $2,500.
The late Greg Donaghy, a federal government historian and 2015 prize finalist; Althia Raj, HuffPost Canada’s Ottawa bureau chief; and Senator Paula Simons.
Founded in 1998, the annual Donner Prize is awarded to the best public policy book by a Canadian. We asked each of the nominated authors one question: In these unsteady and unsafe times, what keeps them up at night?
- Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson’s Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline (Signal/McClelland & Stewart)
- Wendy Dobson’s Living with China: A Middle Power Finds Its Way (Rotman-UTP Publishing/University of Toronto Press)
- Tom Flanagan’s The Wealth of First Nations (Fraser Institute)
- Richard Stursberg with Stephen Armstrong for The Tangled Garden: A Canadian Cultural Manifesto for the Digital Age (James Lorimer & Co.)
- Dennis McConaghy’s Breakdown: The Pipeline Debate and the Threat to Canada’s Future (Dundurn Press)
Former TransCanada executive Dennis McConaghy for Breakdown: The Pipeline Debate and the Threat to Canada’s Future.
The winner is awarded $50,000 and runners-up each receive $7,500.
Former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge; Mark S. Dockstator, past president of the First Nations University of Canada; Jean-Marie Dufour, William Dow Professor of Economics at McGill University; Brenda Eaton, former Deputy Minister to the Premier of British Columbia; Peter Nicholson, former member of the Nova Scotia Legislature; and Glenda Yeates, former federal Deputy Minister of Health.
Amazon Canada First Novel Award
Established in 1976, the award celebrates first-time Canadian novelists. Previous winners include Michael Ondaatje, W.P. Kinsella, Nino Ricci, David Bezmozgis, Andre Alexis and Madeleine Thien. The prize is co-presented by Amazon and the Walrus Foundation.
- Andrew David MacDonald’s When We Were Vikings (Simon & Schuster)
- Nazanine Hozar’s Aria (Knopf Canada)
- James Gregor’s Going Dutch (Simon & Schuster)
- Victoria Hetherington’s Mooncalves (Now Or Never Publishing)
- Stephane Larue’s The Dishwasher (Biblioasis)
- Nancy Jo Cullen’s The Western Alienation Merit Badge (Buckrider Books)
Quebec author Stéphane Larue for The Dishwasher, which was translated into English by Pablo Strauss.
The winner receives $60,000 and each finalist receives $6,000.
Authors Liz Harmer, Shani Mootoo and Anakana Schofield.
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