On the heels of the Giller Prize's perplexing longlist announcement, the Writers' Trust delivered another surprise to literary scene watchers with its fiction shortlist. Looks like Canada's literary awards race is wide open.
Shorlisted this year are:
Tim Bowling, for The Tinsmith (Brindle & Glass)
Tamas Dobozy, for Seige 13 (Thomas Allen)
Rawi Hage, for Carnival (Anansi)
Alix Ohlin, for Inside (Anansi)
Linda Spalding, for The Purchase.
Only Alix Ohlin is on the Giller longlist - that jury announces its shortlist on August 1 - and Inside is just her second novel novel. Linda Spalding is the veteran of the group and Tim Bowling, too, has been writing for decades, but he's not exactly a household name. The same can be said for Tamas Dobozy. Ironically, Rawi Hage, given his relative youth, turns out to be the only author that's received much love from literary juries in the past. So much for Canada's literary star system.
All this, in my view, is good. Like the Giller longlist, the Writers' Trust jury - sometime NOW contributor Drew Hayden Taylor, Lynne Coady and Esi Edugyan - let their taste, not anyone else's expectations, lead the way. It's always good when relatively unknown writers get some attention.
The Journey Prize shortlist for best short story includes Kevin Hardcastle, for To Have To Wait, Andrew Hood for Manning and Alex Pugsley, for Crisis On Earth-x.
The awards are presented November 7.