The lights went out and the the lights went on, and the 13 winners of the 2019 Atlantic BookAwards were announced Thursday night in a gala ceremony held in St, John’s, NL at the Sheraton Hotel. Hosted by CBC’s Angela Antle in a bilingual ceremony, the awards concluded this year’s festival, which ran from May 30 to June 6 with events in Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Newfoundland author Lisa Moore was a double award winner for her short story collection, Something for Everyone (House of Anansi Press), taking home both the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction and one of Canada’s largest literary prizes, the $25,000 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award.
Newfoundland was also represented in the Best Atlantic-Published Book Award category, with Boulder Books receiving the award for Saltwater Mittens from the Island of Newfoundland by Christine LeGrow and Shirley A. Scott.
The sixth Atlantic Book AwardsPioneer Award was given to Newfoundland’s Tom Dawe. The Pioneer Award is given as a lifetime achievement award recognizing an individual’s exceptional contribution to the literary arts in Atlantic Canada. In the 1970s, during what has been called the “Newfoundland Renaissance,” Dawe was one of the founders of Breakwater Books, Newfoundland’s first publisher. He was also one of the founding editors of the literary journal, TickleAce. Both of these endeavors were essential to the literary community of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was often overlooked by mainland publishers and literary periodicals at the time.
Tom was born in Long Pond/Manuels, Conception Bay, Newfoundland. He has worked as a high-school teacher, professor of English, visual artist, editor, writer, and poet. He is the author of 18 books, including poetry, fiction, dramatic script, folklore, and children’s literature. His Collected and New Poems, a testament to nearly fifty years of literary excellence, was published in April of 2019. From 2010-2013, Dawe was the Poet Laureate of the City of St. John’s. In 2011, he was appointed a Member of The Order of Canada, and in the following year, he was awarded The Order of Newfoundland and Labrador. He lives in Conception Bay South.
Other books celebrated with prizes included illustrator Eva Campbell for her illustrations in author Shauntay Grant’s Africville children’s book, and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (non-fiction) to first time author and comedian Mark Critch for his biography, Son of a Critich: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir. Nova Scotia’s Nimbus Publishing won four of 13 awards.
The 13 award-winning books, publishers and authors/illustrators are:
- Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction
Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore (House of Anansi Press)
- Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature
Catching the Light, by Susan Sinnott (Vagrant Press – A Nimbus imprint)
- Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, Sponsored by Marquis Book Printing
There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities by Ingrid R. G. Waldron (Fernwood Publishing)
- Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s Best Atlantic-Published Book Award, Sponsored by Friesens Corporation
Boulder Books for Saltwater Mittens from the Island of Newfoundland: More than 20 heritage designs to knit by Christine LeGrow and Shirley A. Scott
- Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing
Where Duty Lies: A New Brunswick Soldier in the Trenches of World War 1, by John Cunningham(Pottersfield Press)
- Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award
Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief by Kate Inglis (Shambhala Publications)
- Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction), presented by BoyneClarke LL
A Circle on the Surface, by Carol Bruneau (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)
- J.M. Abraham Poetry Award
This Kind of Thinking Does No Good by Alison Smith (Gaspereau Press)
- Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration
Eva Campbell for Africville, written by Shauntay Grant (Groundwood Books)
- Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Fiction), Sponsored by Royden Trainor, Weed Man Maritimes and the family of John and Margaret Savage
In the Wake by Nicola Davison (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)
- Margaret and John Savage First Book Award – Non-Fiction sponsored by Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, Sensor Technology Ltd., Heritage House Law Office, I Love Renovations and Simple Sage Solutions
Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir by Mark Critch, (Viking Canada)
- The Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction), Presented by the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth
The Blind Mechanic: The Amazing Story of Eric Davidson, Survivor of the 1917 Halifax Explosion by Marilyn Davidson Elliott (Nimbus Publishing)
- Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore (House of Anansi Press)
About the Awards:
Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature - The impetus for this $2,000 award came from the late Ann Connor Brimer who was a strong advocate of Canadian children’s literature and saw the need to recognize and encourage children’s writers in Atlantic Canada. It’s presented annually to an Atlantic Canadian writer deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to literature for young people.
Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction - Established in 2015, the prize was created in honor of Alistair MacLeod (1936-2014), Atlantic literary icon and master of the short story. The prize both recognizes he importance of this genre and hopefully encourage the creation of more work in this area.
APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award, Sponsored by Friesens Corporation - The Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s award for Best Atlantic-Published Book recognizes publishing companies and their hardworking professionals who bring out new books each season. Each year, the Atlantic Canadian publisher of the printed book which best exemplifies publishing activity in Atlantic Canada receives the award. The Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best Atlantic-Published Book Awards has been generously sponsored for the eleventh year by Friesens Corporation. The prize of $4,000 is shared between the winning publishing firm ($3,000) and the book’s author ($1,000).
Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, Sponsored by Marquis Book Printing - Presented for the first time in 2013 by the Atlantic Book Awards Society, this award recognizes literary achievement in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The $1,000 prize is awarded each year to the author(s) of a published book determined to have had (or likely to have) a significant literary, social and academic impact leading to a deeper understanding of society.
The Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction), Presented by the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth - The Dartmouth Book Awards were established in 1989 by then mayor of Dartmouth, Dr. John Savage. The annual awards for fiction and non-fiction, valued at $2,500 each, honour the best books by Canadian authors published the previous year in celebration of Nova Scotia and its people.
Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing - The Atlantic Book Awards Society created the Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing and received an endowment from the Democracy 250 committee to fund the $2,000 annual prize for an outstanding work of non-fiction that promotes awareness of, and appreciation for, an aspect of the history of the Atlantic Provinces.
The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award was first presented in 1978. It is named in honour of Evelyn Richardson, who in 1945 won the Governor General’s Non-Fiction Award for We Keep A Light, her memoir of life in a family of lighthouse keepers in Shelburne County. The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award honors the best non fiction titles by Nova Scotian writers and is facilitated by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.
The J.M. Abraham Poetry Award was created by the writing community in the late 1990s. The Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia, with the assistance of several poets, publishers, and post-secondary institutions, raised funds for an annual award program designed to honour the best book of poetry by an Atlantic Canadian. The Award was first presented in 1998. In 2014, the award was named for the legacy of J.M. Abraham.
Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction), presented by Boyne Clarke - The Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for fiction is sponsored by Boyne Clarke Barristers and Solicitors. Dartmouth lawyer and activist Jim Connors was a volunteer juror of the fiction entries from the outset of the annual competitions until his death in 2008.
Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration - Lillian Shepherd was a long-time buyer for the sadly defunct independent bookstore, The Book Room in Halifax. After her sudden death in 1997, this award was established by her many friends in 2002 to applaud the book that combines Lillian’s love for illustrated children’s books and her affinity for locally produced work. The $500 award that bears her name is sponsored by the Atlantic Independent Booksellers’ Association and the Atlantic Provinces Publishers’ Representatives.
Margaret and John Savage First Book Award - The Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, presented for the first time in 2003 with a value of $1,500, recognizes the best first book of fiction or non-fiction published in the previous year by an Atlantic writer. There are now two awards, valued at $2,500 each, one for fiction and one for non-fiction, and supported by many contributors from Dartmouth.
The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award was first presented in 1991. Established with an endowment by Thomas Head Raddall himself, and with ongoing support from the Raddall family, this award honours the work of fiction writers in the Atlantic region and, as the original benefactor envisioned, provides “the gift of time and peace of mind” so essential to the creation of new work. The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award is facilitated by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.
About the Atlantic Book Awards Society
The Board of the non-profit Atlantic Book Awards Society (ABAS) is made up of representatives of the Atlantic Canadian book and writing community. The 2019 Atlantic Book Awards and Festival gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Book Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Halifax Public Libraries, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the sponsorship of Chapters/Indigo/Coles, AllianceFrançaise Halifax and theUniversity of King’s College.