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Toews, a native of Steinbach, Man., previously won for 2008’s The Flying Troutmans and 2014’s All My Puny Sorrows.The Canadian Press

A comedic novel by celebrated Manitoba-bred author Miriam Toews is among the finalists for the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust fiction prize.

Fight Night, published by Knopf Canada and told from the perspective of a nine-year-old living with her pregnant mother, joins a short list of five books vying for the $60,000 award.

They include We Want What We Want by Montreal-raised Alix Ohlin and published by House of Anansi Press, about a young woman who learns her father is engaged to her childhood best friend; and The Strangers by Red River Métis author Katherena Vermette for Hamish Hamilton Canada, centred on a broken social services system.

Also in the running are Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by New York-based Rivka Galchen for Harper Perennial, a tale of hysteria set in the 1600s; and August into Winter: A Novel by Guy Vanderhaeghe and published by McClelland & Stewart, a story of violence that sets off a chain of events in a small prairie town on the cusp of the Second World War.

Each finalist receives $5,000. The winner will be announced at a virtual ceremony Nov. 3.

The Writers’ Trust fiction prize celebrates the best novel or collection of short stories published in Canada and was renamed this year in recognition of co-founders and writers Margaret Atwood and the late Graeme Gibson.

Toews, a native of Steinbach, Man., previously won for 2008’s The Flying Troutmans and 2014’s All My Puny Sorrows.

The short list was chosen by a jury of fiction writers – Rebecca Fisseha, Michelle Good and Steven Price – who narrowed the list down from 130 titles submitted by 60 publishers.

Atwood and Gibson, who were partners for more than a half-century until Gibson’s death in 2019, were among the wordsmiths who co-founded the Writers’ Trust in 1976.

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