The shortlists for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book and Best First Book from Canada and the Caribbean were announced today, 18 February 2009.
Rising star of Caribbean literature Jacob Ross joins Canadian authors Marina Endicott, Kenneth J Harvey and Nino Ricci on a shortlist featuring novels which range from the cane fields of Grenada to the wilds of Newfoundland and from conflict in Kashmir to the Boer War.
The full shortlists are:
Best Book Award
Author Title Publisher Country
Marina Endicott Good to a Fault Freehand Books Canada
Kenneth J Harvey Blackstrap Hawco Random House Canada Canada
Nino Ricci The Origin of Species Doubleday Canada Canada
Jacob Ross Pynter Bender Fourth Estate Grenada
Jaspreet Singh Chef Véhicule Press Canada
Fred Stenson The Great Karoo Doubleday Canada Canada
Best First Book Award
Theanna Bischoff Cleavage NeWest Press Canada
Mark Blagrave Silver Salts Cormorant Books Canada
Craig Boyko Blackouts McClelland and Stewart Canada
Nila Gupta The Sherpa and other Fictions Sumach Press Canada
Pasha Malla The Withdrawal Method House of Anansi Press Canada
Joan Thomas Reading By Lightning Goose Lane Editions Canada
Padma Viswanathan The Toss of a Lemon Random House,Canada Canada
The judging panel for the Canada and the Caribbean region was chaired by Dr Michael Bucknor (Jamaica). He was joined by judges Nicholas Laughlin (Trinidad and Tobago) and Dr Pamela Banting (Canada).
Dr Michael Bucknor commented:
‘In this year’s 93 entries, the panel found a high concentration of stories of suffering, immigration tales and historical narratives. We also discovered a very competitive field among both categories, but we were especially pleased with the giftedness displayed and the promise shown by the authors in the Best First Book category. For future competitions of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in this region, there will be no shortage of talent.’
The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, a much valued and sought-after award, aims to reward the best Commonwealth fiction written in English, by both established and new writers, and to take their works to a global audience.
The two regional winners from Canada and the Caribbean that emerge from the shortlists will be announced on 11 March 2009. These two winners will then enter the final phase of the competition and go on to compete head to head with the other six finalists from Africa, Europe and South Asia and South East Asia and the Pacific for the overall Best Book and Best First Book award.
The two overall winners, chosen by an international panel of six judges coming together in New Zealand, will be announced on 16 May at the Auckland Writers’ and Readers Festival (AWRF).
Each of the regional winners will receive £1,000 and in addition be invited to take part in a week-long series of community events and public readings alongside the final judging in New Zealand, culminating in the announcement of the two overall winners for Best First Book and Best Book.
The overall Best Book winner will receive £10,000 and the overall Best First Book winner will receive £5,000.
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