The 2020 Atlantic Book Awards Festival will feature shortlisted authors and illustrators in events throughout the Atlantic Provinces and will culminate on May 14, 2020, in the Atlantic Book Awards Gala at Paul O'Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library, where the recipients of all 13 Atlantic Book Awards will be revealed. 

Overview | Adjudication Process | Past Festivals


Overview

The Atlantic Book Awards celebrate and promote excellence in writing from Atlantic Canada. The number of titles submitted each year is a testament to the diversity and quality of writing from all four Atlantic provinces. Although jurors have the unenviable task of selecting one winner for each award, each year's shortlists introduce local, national, and international readers to a tremendous body of work and the vibrant culture of the region. The Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) administers and acts as steward for four of these literary awards:

Entries should be submitted by publishers. If you are the author of an eligible book and are unsure whether it has been or will be submitted, please contact both the WFNS (admin@writers.ns.ca) and your publisher to enquire. The submission period for the 2020 awards closed on November 1, 2019.

Independent jury members for the 2020 awards: Carol Bruneau (fiction); Susan Haley (fiction); Julian Smith (fiction); Brian Bartlett (poetry); Basma Kavanagh (poetry); Alison Smith (poetry); Alec Bruce (non-fiction); donalee Moulton (non-fiction); Evelyn White (non-fiction); Janet Barkhouse (children's literature); Lisa Doucet (children's literature); Chantale Pard (children's literature).

Adjudication Process

All eligible titles submitted to the WNFS-stewarded awards are adjudicated by independent juries with literary expertise appropriate to each award. The juries are recruited and facilitated by the WFNS. All decisions made by the WFNS juries are final.

Adjudication procedure

  1. Prior to a prize jury meeting in person, the WFNS sends each member of the prize jury a package containing (1) a copy of each title submitted for the prize, (2) adjudication instructions, and (3) general criteria for assessment.
  2. Jurors complete individual assessment of all submitted titles.
  3. Jurors attend an in-person meeting facilitated by a WFNS representaitve, where the jurors discuss each book (drawing on their notes taken during individual assessment) and reach a consensus on a shortlist of three books and a winning book from that shortlist. (Prior to discussing a title, jurors must disclose any conflicts of interest, determined by whether a juror stands to gain any financial benefit through association with a submitted title; stands to gain from any moral or intellectual rights; or has a significant personal relationship with the author of a submitted title. If there is a conflict of interest, the juror claiming the conflict will be absent during discussion of the book in question.)
  4. Jurors are compensated $250, an additional $5 for each title under consideration, and reimbursement for any necessary travel or accomodations.
  5. In partnership with the Atlantic Book Awards, the WFNS announces award shortlists in the spring following the adjudication period. Award winners are subsequently announced at the Atlantic Book Awards Gala.
  6. Publishers of winning titles will be supplied with gold seals to attach to books. Digital copies of the seals will also be available. 

Assessment criteria

Each eligible title submitted to an award is assessed according to the following general criteria, both on its own terms and in relation to all other titles received for the same award.

  • Merit of the writing (such as creativity and quality)
  • Social and/or cultural merit of the text
  • Originality of content, approach, or technique

Eligible titles received for the Ann Connor Brimer Award are also assessed for their appeal to the intended target audience. The quality of any illustration or photography within a title are not considered.

During individual assessment, jury members are asked to read all entries thoughtfully and rigourously, assessing, where appropriate, how the entries may be read and appreciated in response to the following specific questions:

  • Does the work challenge any assumptions about a genre or form?
  • Is the work cohesive in story, theme and content?
  • Does the text make use of interesting or unusual structure and/or language?
  • Is the language evocative?
  • Is the work well-organized? 
  • Is the work fresh, not imitative?
  • Has the writer been intentional about the use of style and language?
  • Are there any social or cultural considerations that apply?
  • Does the work make a contribution to the literary arts? 

Past Atlantic Book Awards Festivals

Each year, the Atlantic Book Awards Society organizes a series of free readings, book signings, and other events featuring the finalists for the year's awards.

2019

  • May 30, Dartmouth, NS: Readings by Marilyn Davidson Elliott (Robertson Dartmouth Book Award for Non-Fiction finalist) and RC Shaw (Savage First Book Award for Non-Fiction finalist)
  • May 30, Liverpool, NS: Readings by Sharon Bala, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, and Lisa Moore (all three Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award finalists) presented by the family of Thomas Head Raddall
  • May 31, Halifax, NS: 20th annual Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award ceremony
  • June 1, Halifax, NS: Readings by Carol Bruneau, Lesley Crewe, and Nicola Davison (all three Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction finalists)
  • June 1, Margaree Forks, Cape Breton: Readings by Bill Conall, Lisa Moore, and Johanna Skibsrud (all three MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction finalists) presented by the Cabot Trail Writers’ Festival
  • June 2, Middle Musquodoboit, NS: Reading by Lesley Crewe (Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction finalist) presented by Halifax Public Libraries
  • June 2, Moncton, NB: Walking tour and Q&A with Lezlie Lowe (Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award finalist and Savage First Book Non-Fiction Award finalist)
  • June 3, Halifax, NS: Reading and book signing by finalists for the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award, the Savage First Book Award for Non-Fiction, and the Robertson Dartmouth Book Award for Non-Fiction
  • June 4, Halifax, NS: Panel discussion by Kayla Hounsell (Robertson Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction finalist), Lorri Neilsen Glenn (Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award finalist), and Kate Inglis (Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award finalist)
  • June 4, Kentville, NS: Reading by Basma Kavanagh, Annick MacAskill, and Alison Smith (all three J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award finalists)
  • June 5, St. John's, NFLD: Readings by Sharon Bala (Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award finalist and Savage First Book Award for Fiction finalist), Mark Critch (Savage First Book Award for Non-Fiction finalist), Elisabeth de Mariaffi (Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award finalist), and Christine LeGrow & Shirley Anne Scott (Best Atlantic-Published Book Award finalists) presented by Breakwater Books
  • June 6, St. John's, NFLD: Atlantic Book Awards Gala

2018

  • May 2, Halifax, NS: Panel discussion by Joan Baxter (Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award finalist, Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing finalist, Robertson Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction finalist, and Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing finalist), Pauline Dakin (Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award finalist and Savage First Book Award for Non-Fiction finalist), John DeMont (Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award finalist), and Karolyn Smardz Frost (Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing finalist) presented by the University of King's College Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction
  • May 3, St. John’s, NFLD: Readings by Bridget Canning (Savage First Book Award for Fiction finalist), Eva Crocker (MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction finalist), Alison Dyer (J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award finalist), and Mary Walsh (Savage First Book Award for Fiction finalist)
  • May 4, Margaree Forks, Cape Breton: Readings by Carol Bruneau, Oisin Curran, and Sarah Faber (all three Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize finalists) presented by the Cabot Trail Writers’ Festival
  • May 5, Bedford, NS: Talk by Brian Douglas Tennyson (Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing finalist)
  • May 6, Musquodoboit Harbour, NS: Reading by Lesley Choyce (Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction finalist)
  • May 6, Lunenburg, NS: Reading and book signing by Pauline Dakin (Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award finalist and Savage First Book Award for Non-Fiction finalist), John DeMont (Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award finalist), and Aaron Williams (Savage First Book Award for Non-Fiction finalist)
  • May 7, Dartmouth, NS: Readings by Carol Bruneau (Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize finalist and Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction finalist) and Quentin Casey (Robertson Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction finalist)
  • May 8, Halifax, NS: Celebration of Angela K. Doak and Sydney Smith (both Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration finalists) presented by Marquis Book Printing
  • May 8, Halifax, NS: Presentation by Andy Flanagan (Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing finalist)
  • May 8, Saint John, NB: Book launch by Rachel Bryant (Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing finalist) presented by Fog Lit Festival
  • May 9, Charlottetown, PEI: Talk by Joanna Henry (Best Atlantic-Published Book Award finalist)
  • May 9, Liverpool, NS: Readings by Carol Bruneau, Oisin Curran, and Sarah Faber (all three Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize finalists) presented by the family of Thomas Head Raddall
  • May 9, Halifax, NS: Reading by Allan Cooper (J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award finalist), David Huebert (MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction finalist and Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction finalist), and Mary Walsh (Savage First Book Award for Fiction finalist)
  • May 10, Halifax, NS: Atlantic Book Awards Gala