Writers’ Trust launches $25,000 poetry prize

Tue, 22/04/2014 - 15:09

Canadian poets are being feted with a new prize that will recognize a writer for his or her exceptional body of work. The $25,000 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, sponsored by the Latner Family Foundation, will be handed out for the first time in November alongside five other literary prizes administered by the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

According to a press release, the annual prize will be awarded to “a Canadian poet in mid-career in recognition of a remarkable body of work and in hope of future contributions to Canadian poetry.” Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have published at least three collections of poetry demonstrating “outstanding mastery in the art of poetry” are eligible to receive the award, for which there is no formal submission process.

Writers’ Trust executive director Mary Osborne says the prize fills “a gap in the literary prize scene where there wasn’t a body of work prize for poets.” The other marquee Canadian poetry prizes – including the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize and the $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry – recognize a single collection.

“The jurors have the freedom to look at who is doing interesting work and contributing to the poetic culture of Canada, and who has the promise of continuing to do more interesting work,” Osborne says.

The jury for the inaugural prize comprises poets Stephanie Bolster, Lorna Crozier, and Fred Wah. The winner will be announced at a gala on Nov. 4.

The Writers’ Trust already administers three prizes recognizing existing bodies of work: the Engel/Findley Award for fiction, the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, and the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life.

Osborne says the Writers’ Trust has received a 10-year commitment from the Latner Family Foundation to support the prize.

“I expect we’ll have a very long-term arrangement with them, partly because the impulse is coming from a genuine appreciation for the art form,” she says. “For [the Latner family], it’s really about supporting poets and their work.”


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Book links roundup: Media reaction to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s death

Mon, 21/04/2014 - 17:32
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Sina Queyras and Adam Sol on the state of Canadian poetry

Mon, 21/04/2014 - 15:38

Sina Queyras and Adam Sol (photo: Hudson Hayden)

It is virtually impossible to argue against the notion that Canadian poetry has come of age. If F.R. Scott was able to say, as recently as 1976, that when he and A.J.M. Smith launched the McGill Fortnightly Review in the mid-1920s “there was not a single Canadian poet we paid much attention to,” no such attitude could prevail in 2014.

From Ken Babstock to Karen Solie, from Erin Mouré to Elizabeth Bachinsky, poetry in Canada has obliterated the boundaries set for it by the Confederation poets, and announced itself, both within and outside our borders, as heterodox, vibrant, and thriving. At least one volume, Christian Bök’s Eunoia, has achieved bona fide bestsellerdom, and Anne Carson has attained something resembling rock-star status.

Sina Queyras and Adam Sol are two prominent figures in the current landscape. Queyras won both the Pat Lowther Award and a Lambda Literary Award for her 2007 collection, Lemon Hound, and has been at the forefront of poetic discourse in Canada as a result of her online literary magazine of the same name. Her 2009 collection, Expressway, was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award. Queyras lives in Montreal, where she teaches in the English department at Concordia University.

Sol’s 2004 book, Crowd of Sounds, won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and his follow-up, Jeremiah, Ohio, was nominated for the same prize. Sol is a tenured professor at Laurentian University in Barrie, Ontario, teaching courses in literature and creative writing.

With new books out this season – Queyras’s M x T, from Coach House Books, and Sol’s Complicity, from McClelland & Stewart – the time seemed right to get them together for a broad discussion of where Canadian poetry is at present, and where it might be headed.

Read the Q&A >>

This article appeared in the April 2014 issue of Q&Q.

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Novelist and short-story writer Alistair MacLeod dies at 77

Sun, 20/04/2014 - 19:54

Alistair MacLeod, one of Canada’s greatest short-story writers, has died at age 77.

Though he published sparingly, his few works have become classics of CanLit. These include a single novel – 1999′s No Great Mischief (McClelland & Stewart), which won the lucrative IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, despite being shut out of contention for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Awards. The novel also won Ontario’s Trillium Book Award.

But it is his short stories that stand as MacLeod’s greatest literary achievement. He released only two collections, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories (1986), but both are now considered classics of the genre. MacLeod’s stories are gathered together in the single volume Island, released by M&S in 2000, following the popular success of No Great Mischief.

Although he was born on the prairies – North Battleford, Saksatchewan, to be exact – and lived most of the year in Windsor, Ontario, MacLeod will be forever associated with Cape Breton, the setting for most of his fiction.

The second edition of The Concise Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature has this to say of MacLeod’s writing:

His deep identification with the geography and culture of Cape Breton – its Gaelic heritage, the working life of the farm, mine, bush, and sea – lies at the centre of his stories, which draw on the oral tradition of storytelling. MacLeod’s narrators are also haunted by their pasts, immediate and ancestral, and they elegiacally reflect on their pasts in what appears to be the immediate present, in a kind of eternal “nowness” in which their pasts bleed persistently into their present.

According to Scott Edmonds of Canadian Press, in an article reprinted on CTV’s website, MacLeod had remained in hospital since suffering a stroke in January. Edmonds quotes Douglas Gibson, MacLeod’s editor at M&S, as saying that it was “a hard stroke.” Gibson is also quoted as saying that MacLeod was “that rare combination of a great writer and a great man.”

MacLeod’s most recent publication, “Remembrance,” originally commissioned by the Vancouver International Writers Festival and released as a digital single by M&S last November, was his first published story in more than 10 years.

Watch Q&Q for further coverage in the coming days.

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Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards shortlists announced

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 21:08

The finalists have been announced for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards, a pair of annual $6,000 prizes that recognize excellence in writing and illustration in Canadian English-language books.

This year’s winners will be selected by two five-member juries from Aldergrove Public School in Markham, Ontario, and will be announced on May 20.

The nominees in the children’s picture-book category are:

The nominees in the young-adult and middle-reader category are:

The awards are administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and funding from the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.

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Libris shortlists announced

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 19:46

The Retail Council of Canada has announced the finalists for the 2014 Libris Awards. Nominated and selected by members of the Canadian book industry, the awards recognize excellence among authors, publishers, editors, sales representatives, and booksellers from across the country.

Winners will be announced on June 2 at the Toronto Congress Centre, as part of the Retail Council of Canada’s Store Conference.

This year’s lifetime achievement award will be presented to CBC Radio host and author Stuart McLean.

The nominees are:


  • Joseph Boyden
  • Amanda Lindhout
  • Louise Penny
  • Charlotte Gray
  • Alice Munro




  • Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, Ontario)
  • McNally Robinson Booksellers (Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
  • Words Worth Books (Waterloo, Ontario)
  • Mosaic Books (Kelowna, B.C.)
  • Another Story Bookshop (Toronto, Ontario)

Specialty Bookseller

  • Bakka Phoenix Books (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Kidsbooks (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • Mabel’s Fables (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Woozles Children’s Bookstore (Halifax, Nova Scotia) 

Campus Bookseller

  • UBC Bookstore (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • The Book Store at University of Western Ontario (Waterloo, Ontario)
  • King’s Co-op Bookstore (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • University of Regina Bookstore (Regina, Saskatchewan) 


  • Jennifer Lambert, HarperCollins Canada
  • John Metcalf, Biblioasis
  • Nicole Winstanley, Penguin Canada

Young Reader

Picture Books

  • The Dark by Lemony Snicket; Jon Klassen, illus. (HarperCollins Canada)
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; Barbara Reid, illus. (Scholastic Canada)
  • Lasso the Wind by George Elliott Clarke; Susan Tooke, illus. (Nimbus Publishing)
  • This Little Hamster by Kass Reich (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt; Matthew Forsythe, illus. (Simon & Schuster)


  • HarperCollins Canada
  • Raincoast Books
  • University of Toronto Press

Sales Rep

  • Ali Hewitt (Ampersand Inc.)
  • Sherry Lee (Simon & Schuster Canada)
  • Lynne Reeder (Random House of Canada) 

Small Press

  • Arsenal Pulp Press
  • Biblioasis
  • Gaspereau Press
  • Groundwood Books
  • Nimbus Publishing


  • ECW Press
  • Dundurn Press
  • HarperCollins Canada
  • House of Anansi Press
  • Penguin Canada
  • Random House of Canada
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E.L. Doctorow wins Library of Congress Prize, Kickstarter fundraises for NYC pizza book, and more

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 17:24
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Q&A: Cinema Politica’s Ezra Winton on launching a self-published book

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 15:40

Svetla Turnin, filmmaker John Greyson, academic Tom Waugh, and Ezra Winton

Last week, Montreal’s Cinema Politica launched its first book, Screening Truth to Power: A Reader on Documentary Activism, a compendium of writing by filmmakers, activists, and academics to mark the non-profit organization’s 10-year anniversary.

What began as a screening series of independent political films at Concordia University has, over the past decade, expanded into a vast network of more than 100 community and campus chapters across Canada and beyond. True to the organizations’s independent, anarchist roots, co-founders Svetla Turnin and Ezra Winton decided to self-publish the book – and come up with a distribution plan that excludes chain bookstores and multinationals like Amazon.

Q&Q talked with Winton about the self-publishing process.

How did the book come together? About a year ago at our board meeting we were talking about the approaching ten year anniversary of our organization, and we felt like it would be nice to have some kind of cultural artifact that serves as a marker, that acts as interpretive material for the films, and that also would give us a chance to articulate this important intersection between documentary and activism that we are so invested in. We just said, “Well, why don’t we make a book?”

Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route? Since we know designers and printers, we thought we would do it ourselves.

The person who designed our website and basically everything for us is Kevin Lo and he designed the book. We’ve worked for the last 10 years with the same printers here in Montreal called Kata Soho. They’re a community printing press and very much connected with the activist community, so we knew we’d work with them.

Did you ever consider going with an established publisher? We didn’t, because we wanted to be able to control the content and the price, so we could keep the book accessible. Also, working with an academic process is a very slow process. We had a tight time frame.

We’re getting really good response from the book. If we don’t go bankrupt from doing this, we’re thinking of doing another one on a related subject and approaching an academic press to collaborate.

How did you choose contributors? We just kind of used a snowball procedure where we contacted filmmakers and academics that we knew. For instance, a filmmaker named Shannon Walsh, whose films we’ve shown, wrote a chapter. Another academic in Atlantic Canada, Darrell Varga, I heard him give a really great talk about documentary and utopia, and we asked him if we could publish the talk.

The second tier was approaching activists and people we work with. We asked Kristen Fitzpatrick at Women Make Movies in New York to write a short piece, because they’re one of our favourite distributors. And then Svetla and I wrote a long introduction where we tried to give shape to this abstract idea of documentary activism.

Will there be a digital edition of the book? There will be. We’re focusing on selling the hard copies right now. As we approach a break-even point, we’re going to release an ebook version that will be cheaper.

How did you approach practical publishing decisions given that you’re pretty new to this? It’s been a steep learning curve and kind of ad hoc decision making for sure. Three people have been advisers on the book: Marc Glassman, who ran the Pages bookstore in Toronto for over 30 years; Larissa Dutil from the Co-op Bookstore here at Concordia; and David Widgington, who ran a small publishing company called Cumulus Press from 1998 to 2008. We’ve been able to get some advice from them like how to price the book, which turns out to be quite tricky.

What’s your distribution plan? We have a four-pronged approach. We printed 1,000 books. We’ll be selling books online through our website. We’ll sell them at events like the Social Forum in Ottawa, the Anarchist Book Fairs, and other independent book fairs. We’re also hoping our local chapters will sell them at their events. We’re giving them a bulk price so they can use the book as a fundraising tool as well. Then there are the independent bookstores and libraries.

We’ve decided not to work with Amazon because of their poor labour record. I guess Amazon is increasingly the way people are getting their books, but the flip side of it is that there are fewer and fewer bookstores.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

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Cover to Cover: Janet Munsil’s That Elusive Spark

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 15:00
Click on the thumbnails to see how designer Natalie Olsen draws on a 19th-century industrial accident to suggest the story and themes in Janet Munsil’s play That Elusive Spark (Playwrights Canada Press).

This feature appeared in the April 2014 edition of Q&Q.


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Goodreads syncs with Amazon purchases, Lee Boudreaux to start Little, Brown imprint, and more

Wed, 16/04/2014 - 17:26
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NSFW: David Cronenberg’s new book trailer

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 22:10

It’s rare (if ever) that Q&Q posts a link considered not safe for work, but we’ll make an exception for David Cronenberg.

A trailer for the filmmaker’s debut novel, Consumed, has appeared on the website of his publisher Hamish Hamilton.

Very little else has been revealed about the novel, except that it will be released Sept. 30, the cover was designed by Chip Kidd, and Viggo Mortensen praised its “originality, wit, preoccupation with technology, and uncompromising carnality.”

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Paul Wells wins $10,000 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 22:08

Two weeks after receiving the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing, Maclean’s politics editor Paul Wells has won the 2014 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize for The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006­– (Random House Canada).

In a press release, the jury praised Wells for his “lively, witty and perceptive insider, political portrait of Stephen Harper as a calculating, incremental politician.”

Wells was selected for the $10,000 prize from a shortlist of five titles, narrowed down from 40 submissions. The other nominees were:

  • P. Whitney Lackenbauer, The Canadian Rangers: A Living History (University of British Columbia Press)
  • David O’Keefe, One Day in August: The Untold Story Behind Canada’s Tragedy at Dieppe (Knopf Canada)
  • John L. Riley, The Once and Future Great Lakes Country: An Ecological History (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

The prize is awarded annually to “the best book on Canada, Canadians, and/or Canada’s place in the world published in the previous calendar year.” It honours Canadian newspaper editor John Wesley Dafoe, who worked for the Manitoba Free Press from 1901 to 1944.

Wells will be presented with the award in Winnipeg on May 27.

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Biographer Gregory White Smith dies, Gone Girl trailer offers tip line for fans, and more

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 17:23
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Cooking lessons from the University of Guelph’s culinary collection

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 16:03

Melissa McAfee, special collections librarian at the University of Guelph, delicately opens a 1684 fifth edition of The Queen-Like Closet by Hannah Woolley, a British widower believed to be the first woman to make a living writing cookbooks.

Along with Kathryn Harvey, head of the university’s archival and special collections, McAfee has hand-picked favourites from the library’s collection of old and rare culinary tomes. There are handwritten sepia manuscripts with carefully wrought calligraphy; books that demonstrate how to prepare delicacies like swan pie; and those with more modest objectives, such as an early edition of Catherine Parr Traill’s The Canadian Settlers’ Guide. A thin saddle-stitched book commissioned by Jell-O offers harried 1950s housewives options for shortcut cooking, whereas Cory Kilvert’s The Male Chauvinist Cookbook demonstrates how 1970s men can woo ladies by appealing to their stomachs.

These titles don’t begin to cover the breadth of the University of Guelph’s culinary collection. At 14,000 volumes, it’s one of the largest in North America (Library and Archives Canada and McGill University also have significant collections). The British Library used to acquire Canadian domestic-arts books until the Second World War, when the wing in which they were housed was bombed.

The university’s archives and special collections are located in the basement of the McLaughlin Library, a building constructed in the seemingly ubiquitous Brutalist style of the late 1960s. Although much of the archives reflects the school’s early years as a centre for agriculture, domestic arts, and veterinary studies, they now include significant materials on Canadian theatre, Scottish culture, and literature. The Jean Little collection contains more than 90 diaries and other personal ephemera belonging to the beloved children’s author, while the Lucy Maud Montgomery archive features scrapbooks, journals, an original manuscript of Rilla of Ingleside, and more than 1,200 photos donated by Montgomery’s son and literary executor, Dr. E. Stuart Macdonald.

Tim Sauer, former head of information resources, and Jo Marie Powers, a retired hotel and food administration professor and founder of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards, established the collection in the early 1990s. The bulk of its holdings came from several high-profile donors. Shortly before her death in 1999, former Chatelaine home economist, author, and “collector of social history” Una Abrahamson donated more than 3,000 books and unpublished manuscripts, including many of the university’s rarest and oldest British, French, and early Canadian titles.

After downsizing her home in 2009, Jean Paré, author of the popular Company’s Coming series, donated 6,700 books from her personal research library. The university also acquired substantial materials from the late Edna Staebler, best known for her Food that Really Schmecks series on Mennonite cooking and culture.

Acquiring for the collection has never been an issue, says Harvey. “Once you let culinary enthusiasts know that you have anything related to cooking, they come out of the woodwork.” Space is the utmost concern: the entire library houses more than 1.2 million volumes in a building made for 625,000, with more stored off-site. There have been preliminary steps toward digitizing the collection, but it can be time-­consuming and expensive, especially when dealing with rare, valuable volumes.

Although donations of international titles were accepted in the past, Harvey and McAfee agree that, moving forward, the focus will be on Canadian content – a decision that brings its own challenges.

“We haven’t figured out what that means yet,” says McAfee. “It’s a complicated issue, because Canadian cooking is a mix of cultures and different ethnic groups. You can’t say it’s about butter tarts.”

One category the library is interested in is community cookbooks such as The Home Cook Book (Tried! Tested! Proven!), compiled by “the ladies of Toronto and chief cities and towns in Canada.” Since it was first published in 1877 as a fundraiser for the Toronto Children’s Hospital, there have been more than 100 editions, most recently in 2002 from Whitecap Books. McAfee jokes that, at some point in history, there was a copy in every household. “It’s become Canada’s Joy of Cooking,” she says.

Although it’s easy to get wrapped up in the beauty and novelty of 200-year-old books, the collection is not a static entity, nor is it stuck in the past. As part of the University of Guelph’s decade long role as co-host and sponsor of the Canadian Culinary Book Awards (rebranded in 2012 as the Taste Canada Food Writing Awards), the archive receives annual donations of all the shortlisted titles, which ensures that contemporary authors, such as Martin Picard and Naomi Duguid, are represented for future generations.

“These books are great for showing what ingredients are available, what people’s tastes are, what they were interested in during a certain time period,” McAfee says. “It’s a really great way of studying communities.”

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Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch wins Pulitzer

Mon, 14/04/2014 - 21:11

Donna Tartt’s third novel, The Goldfinch (Little, Brown), has won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The 784-page bestseller, which beat out Philipp Meyer’s The Son and Bob Shacochis’ The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, was recently optioned for screen by producers of the Hunger Games series.

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall won the Pulitzer for biography; Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin won for non-fiction; and 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri won for poetry.



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Book of Negroes casts Nova Scotia residents, Grapes of Wrath turns 75, and more

Mon, 14/04/2014 - 17:21
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Random House Canada to publish McGarrigle memoir

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 21:45

One of Canada’s most beloved musical families, the McGarrigles, will recount their personal and artistic history in a new memoir published by Random House Canada.

The book will be co-written by Anna McGarrigle – who was one half of the folk duo Kate and Anna McGarrigle along with her sister Kate, who died in 2010 – and her elder sister Jane, who managed their career for nearly 20 years.

In a press release, Random House Canada associate editor Amanda Lewis, who acquired world rights to the book, says, “This will be a quintessentially Canadian book of the best kind, encapsulating Anna and Jane’s Irish-French background, growing up in Saint-Sauveur and Montreal, and launching stellar international careers in the music industry. It will also speak to the important (sometimes lifesaving) role of sisters, and will be a deeply moving book that captures the profound importance of the sibling relationship.”

The memoir will be released October 2015.

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Moose Jaw named inaugural Reading Town Canada location

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 21:12

Poems delivered with pizza and street-corner lending libraries are just a couple of the activities planned for Moose Jaw’s inaugural Reading Town Canada event, which runs from May 3 to 10.

According to the event website, the National Reading Campaign has partnered with the Saskatchewan Festival of Words to turn the city of 35,000 into an “exemplary model of what a reading Canada would look like.”

For a week, the NRC promises to have reading woven into the everyday lives of Moose Jaw residents. Events include a fully stocked “reading glen” in downtown Crescent Park and a reading “duel” between former Saskatchewan poet laureate Bob Currie and Judith Krause, who currently holds the position.

As part of the initiative, First Book Canada will donate thousands of Canadian children’s books to lower-income families in the city.

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Jon Klassen’s hat books sell one million copies

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 19:47

Italian editions of Klassen’s books at the 2014 Bologna Children’s Book Fair

In less than three years, Canadian-born Jon Klassen has achieved superstar status in the international children’s book world.

Publishers Weekly reports that Klassen’s first two picture books, I Want My Hat Back and the Caldecott Medal–winning This Is Not My Hat (both published by Candlewick Press/Random House), have together sold one million copies worldwide, with translations in 22 languages.

In a statement, Candlewick senior vice-president and sales director John Mendelson said, “The extraordinary support the books have received from booksellers and readers is a testament to Jon Klassen’s immeasurable talent, as he continues to win new fans every day.”

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Arthur Ellis Awards announce longlist for best novel

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 18:38

Crime Writers of Canada has announced the longlist for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing in the best novel category.

For the first time this year, the 10-book longlist is being announced in advance of the shortlists in all Arthur Ellis Awards categories, “in recognition of the increasing number and quality of submissions,” a press release says. The five-title shortlist will be announced April 24.

The nominees are:

  •  John Brooke, Walls of a Mind (Signature Editions)
  •  Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk, The Wolves of St. Peter’s (HarperCollins Canada)
  •  Sean Haldane, The Devil’s Making (Stone Flower Press)
  •  Lee Lamothe, Presto Variations (Dundurn Press)
  •  Michael McCann, The Rainy Day Killer (Plaid Raccoon Press)
  •  Robert Rotenberg, Stranglehold (Simon & Schuster Canada)
  •  Howard Shrier, Miss Montreal (Vintage Canada)
  •  Sean Slater, The Guilty (Simon & Schuster U.K.)
  •  Simone St. James, An Inquiry into Love and Death (Penguin)
  •  David Whellams, The Drowned Man (ECW Press)

Winners of the Arthur Ellis Awards will be announced at a gala in Toronto on June 5.

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