First Novel Award

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The First Novel Award, formerly the Books in Canada First Novel Award, is a Canadian literary award, co-presented by and The Walrus to the best first novel in English published the previous year by a citizen or resident of Canada.[1] It has been awarded since 1976.[1]

The First Novel Award was founded by the literary magazine Books in Canada.[1] Between 1976 and 1994, the award was sponsored by SmithBooks. During this period, the award was known as the SmithBooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award.[1] When SmithBooks was acquired by Chapters, it became the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award.[1]

The award was reorganized when Books in Canada was acquired by Adrian and Olga Stein in 1995. The Steins retained a first novel editor, introduced a comprehensive first novel review program, and formalized the adjudication process.

The award was taken over by in 2009 and its name was changed to the current incarnation. The arrangement saw the prize award initially doubled to $10,000, and then increased to its current amount of $40,000, with shortlisted finalists each receiving over $6,000.

Winners and nominees[edit]

At different times in its history, the award has been presented early in the year for works published in the preceding year, late in the year for works published in the same year as the presentation, or mid-year for an eligibility period that straddled parts of both years. For clarity, the list below is organized by the year of presentation rather than the year of publication eligibility.

Year Winner Nominated
1977 Blue ribbon Ian McLachlan, The Seventh Hexagram[2]
Blue ribbon Michael Ondaatje, Coming Through Slaughter[2]
1978 Blue ribbon Oonah McFee, Sandbars[3]
1979 Blue ribbon Joan Barfoot, Abra[1]
1980 Blue ribbon Clark Blaise, Lunar Attractions[4]
1981 Blue ribbon W.D. Valgardson, Gentle Sinners[4]
1982 Blue ribbon Joy Kogawa, Obasan[1]
1983 Blue ribbon W.P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe[5]
1984 Blue ribbon Heather Robertson, Willie: A Romance[4]
1985 Blue ribbon Geoffrey Ursell, Perdue, or How the West Was Lost[6]
1986 Blue ribbon Wayne Johnston, The Story of Bobby O'Malley[7]
1987 Blue ribbon Karen Lawrence, The Life of Helen Alone[8]
1988 Blue ribbon Marion Quednau, The Butterfly Chair[9]
1989 Blue ribbon Rick Salutin, A Man of Little Faith[10]
1990 Blue ribbon Sandra Birdsell, The Missing Child[11]
1991 Blue ribbon Nino Ricci, Lives of the Saints[12]
1992 Blue ribbon Rohinton Mistry, Such a Long Journey[13]
1993 Blue ribbon John Steffler, The Afterlife of George Cartwright[14]
1994 Blue ribbon Deborah Joy Corey, Losing Eddie[15]
1995 Blue ribbon Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy[16]
1996 Blue ribbon Keath Fraser, Popular Anatomy[17]
1997 Blue ribbon Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces[18]
1998 Blue ribbon Margaret Gibson, Opium Dreams[19]
1999 Blue ribbon André Alexis, Childhood[20]
2000 Blue ribbon David Macfarlane, Summer Gone[21]
Blue ribbon Alan R. Wilson, Before the Flood[21]
2001 Blue ribbon Eva Stachniak, Necessary Lies[22]
2002 Blue ribbon Michael Redhill, Martin Sloane[23]
2003 Blue ribbon Mary Lawson, Crow Lake[24]
2004 Blue ribbon Michel Basilières, Black Bird[25]
2005 Blue ribbon Colin McAdam, Some Great Thing[26]
2006 Blue ribbon Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road[27]
2007 Blue ribbon Madeleine Thien, Certainty[28]
2008 Blue ribbon Gil Adamson, The Outlander[29]
2009 Blue ribbon Joan Thomas, Reading by Lightning[30]
2010 Blue ribbon Jessica Grant, Come, Thou Tortoise[31]
2011 Blue ribbon Eleanor Catton, The Rehearsal[1]
2012 Blue ribbon David Bezmozgis, The Free World[32]
2013 Blue ribbon Anakana Schofield, Malarky[1]
2014 Blue ribbon Wayne Grady, Emancipation Day[33]
2015 Blue ribbon Alix Hawley, All True Not a Lie in It[34]
2016 Blue ribbon Mona Awad, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl[35]
2017 Blue ribbon Katherena Vermette, The Break[36]
2018 Blue ribbon Michael Kaan, The Water Beetles[37]
2019 Blue ribbon Casey Plett, Little Fish[38]
2020 Blue ribbon Stéphane Larue, The Dishwasher[39]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "First Novel Award helps write authors' careers: All awards are crapshoots, but for a prize that recognizes writers with little or no track record, a surprising number become successful". The Globe and Mail, May 21, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "New corporate outlook on helping writers: more cash, fewer strings". The Globe and Mail, June 7, 1977.
  3. ^ "And the winner is..." The Globe and Mail, April 1, 1978.
  4. ^ a b c "First-novel-award prize is increased to $5,000". The Globe and Mail, January 20, 1988.
  5. ^ "The timeless metaphors of baseball". The Globe and Mail, November 17, 1984.
  6. ^ "Writer from Regina wins book award". The Globe and Mail, March 29, 1985.
  7. ^ "Lives in isolation". The Globe and Mail, January 9, 1988.
  8. ^ "Lawrence captures $3,000 literary prize". The Globe and Mail, April 3, 1987.
  9. ^ "BC woman (Quednau) wins first-novel award". Winnipeg Free Press, April 3, 1998.
  10. ^ "Salutin wins $5,000 prize". Toronto Star, March 30, 1989.
  11. ^ "Winnipeg author wins first-novel prize". Ottawa Citizen, March 30, 1990.
  12. ^ "Ricci novel wins second big prize". Calgary Herald, March 26, 1991.
  13. ^ "Mistry novel earns Smith award". Halifax Daily News, March 27, 1992.
  14. ^ "Story from 'fascinating' journal wins Steffler first novel award". Halifax Daily News, March 27, 1993.
  15. ^ "New Brunswicker wins book award". Calgary Herald, March 25, 2994.
  16. ^ "Funny Boy author wins $5,000 SmithBooks prize". Toronto Star, March 22, 1995.
  17. ^ "Fraser wins First Novel prize". Toronto Star, April 26, 1996.
  18. ^ "Anne Michaels wins $5,000 first novel prize". Edmonton Journal, May 29, 1997.
  19. ^ "Opium Dreams wins award". Ottawa Citizen, April 25, 1998.
  20. ^ "Andre Alexis wins first novel award". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, April 30, 1999.
  21. ^ a b "Macfarlane, Wilson share award for first novel". The Globe and Mail, October 13, 2000.
  22. ^ "Necessary Lies wins first-novel award". The Globe and Mail, September 26, 2001.
  23. ^ "Michael Redhill picks up first-novel honours". Edmonton Journal, October 2, 2002.
  24. ^ "Mary Lawson wins first novel award for Crow Lake". National Post, October 9, 2003.
  25. ^ "Basilieres wins first novel award". The Telegram, October 17, 2004.
  26. ^ "Montreal's Colin McAdam wins First Novel Award". The Globe and Mail, October 7, 2005.
  27. ^ "Joseph Boyden wins Amazon first-novel award". The Globe and Mail, October 12, 2006.
  28. ^ "Quebec City's Thien wins First Novel Award". Montreal Gazette, October 9, 2007.
  29. ^ "Adamson wins First Novel Award". Telegraph-Journal, October 2, 2008.
  30. ^ "Thomas wins Amazon First Novel Award". The Globe and Mail, September 25, 2009.
  31. ^ "Jessica Grant takes first-novel honour". The Globe and Mail, May 1, 2010.
  32. ^ "Toronto writer wins first-novel prize". Victoria Times-Colonist, April 29, 2012.
  33. ^ "Seasoned author's debut novel a winner". Winnipeg Free Press, May 10, 2014.
  34. ^ "Alix Hawley's All True Not A Lie In It wins First Novel Award". The Globe and Mail. May 21, 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  35. ^ "Mona Awad wins First Novel Award". CBC Books, May 26, 2016.
  36. ^ "Katherena Vermette wins First Novel Award". The Globe and Mail May 25, 2017.
  37. ^ "Michael Kaan wins Amazon Canada First Novel Award for The Water Beetles". The Globe and Mail, May 22, 2018.
  38. ^ "Casey Plett wins $60,000 Amazon first novel prize". Toronto Star, May 22, 2019.
  39. ^ "Stéphane Larue wins $60K Amazon First Novel Award for The Dishwasher". CBC Books, June 25, 2020.

External links[edit]