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:
- Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award ($25,000 prize)
- J.M. Abraham Poetry Award ($2,000 prize)
- Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award ($2,000 prize)
- Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children's Literature ($2,000 prize)
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 (email@example.com) 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).
The 2020 Atlantic Book Awards & Festival will feature shortlisted authors and illustrators in events throughout the Atlantic Provinces and will culminate on May 21, 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.
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.
- 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.
- Jurors complete individual assessment of all submitted titles.
- 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.)
- Jurors are compensated $250, an additional $5 for each title under consideration, and reimbursement for any necessary travel or accomodations.
- 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.
- Publishers of winning titles will be supplied with gold seals to attach to books. Digital copies of the seals will also be available.
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?