02 May

Announcing the 2019 Atlantic Book Awards Shortlist

The Atlantic Book Awards Society is pleased to announce the shortlist for the thirteen different book prizes that make up the 2019 Atlantic Book Awards. The nominated titles represent a wide range of books from Atlantic Canada—everything from the story of a well-known blind mechanic to the biography of 22 Minutes comedian Mark Critch. The full shortlist is printed below and is available at www.atlanticbookawards.ca.  

For the second time in seven years, the Atlantic Book Awards gala is travelling to Newfoundland.  The event will take place in St. John’s on Thursday, June 6, including the presentation of the 2019 Pioneer Award, which will go to someone from Newfoundland and Labrador who has made a substantial contribution to the literary life of the region.

There are six double award nominees on this year’s shortlist, including writer Nicola Davison for her debut novel In the Wake (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint); journalist Lezlie Lowe for No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs (Coach House Books); Marilyn Davidson Elliott for The Blind Mechanic:  The Amazing Story of Eric Davidson, Survivor of the 1917 Halifax Explosion (Nimbus Publishing); Sharon Bala for The Boat People (McClelland & Stewart); author Lisa Moore for Something for Everyone (House of Anansi Press) and Susan Sinnott for Catching the Light (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint).

Three awards provided by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia will be given out at this year’s Atlantic Book Awards Gala, including one of Canada’s biggest book prizes, the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award (valued at $25,000).  All three nominees for the Raddall are writers from Newfoundland this year.

Twenty-three of the thirty-nine nominations are for books published by Atlantic publishers. Nova Scotia’s Nimbus Publishing/Vagrant Press leads with twelve shortlisted titles, while Pottersfield Publishing (also from NS) has four. Other regional publishers include Fernwood Publishing/Roseway (NS), Boularderie Island Press and Breton Books (Cape Breton), Boulder Books (NL) and Gaspereau Press (NS).

The Atlantic Book Awards Society announced the nominees at a press conference on Thursday, May 2 at 11:00 a.m. at Halifax City Hall with several of the nominated authors present. Councilor Waye Mason was also on hand for the announcement. Other special guests included The Honourable Gary Burrill, M.L.A. for Halifax Chebucto, Jacqueline Ruck, author Lindsay Ruck and their father, Douglas Ruck. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Dartmouth Book Awards, with a special celebration planned to mark the occasion on May 30 at New Scotland Brewing.

The 2019 Atlantic Book Awards and Festivalruns May 30 to June 6 this year,with free literary events in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Full festival event details at and a link to purchase tickets to the Gala Award Show are at www.atlanticbookawards.ca.  There are school readings and events in libraries, pubs and coffee shops, as well as a non-traditional tour of public washrooms in downtown Moncton with author Lezlie Lowe, nominated for No Place to Go:  How Public Toilets Fail our Private Needs. In Cape Breton, Newfoundland author Lisa Moore will read alongside Johanna Skibsrud and Bill Conall, while in St. John’s, Breakwater Books will present a spring book launch featuring five short-listed writers including comedian and author Mark Critch at the Johnson GEO Centre.

The Board of the non-profit Atlantic Book Awards Society 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 Canada Council for the Arts, Halifax Public Libraries, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Halifax Regional Municipality and the sponsorship of Alliance Française Halifax, University of King’s College and Chapters/Indigo/Coles.

2019 ATLANTIC BOOK AWARDS and FESTIVAL SHORTLIST

1.  Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction

Some Days Run Long by Bill Conall (Boularderie Island Press)

Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore (House of Anansi Press)

Tiger, Tiger by Johanna Skibsrud (Hamish Hamilton)

2.  Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature

Short for Chameleon by Vicki Grant (HarperCollins Publishers)

Finding Grace by Daphne Greer (Nimbus Publishing)

Catching the Light by Susan Sinnott (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)

3.  Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best Atlantic-Published Book Award Sponsored by Friesens Corporation

Viola Desmond:  Her Life and Times by Graham Reynolds and Wanda Robson (Roseway Publishing)

Saltwater Mittens from the Island of Newfoundland:  More than 20 heritage designs to knit by Christine LeGrow & Shirley A. Scott (Boulder Books)

Hope Blooms:  Plant a Seed, Harvest a Dream by Mamadou Wade and the youth of Hope Blooms (Nimbus Publishing)

4.  Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, Sponsored by Marquis Book Printing

The Age of Increasing Inequality:  The Astonishing Rise of Canada’s 1% by Lars Osberg (Lorimer)

The Tides of Time:  A Nova Scotia Book of Seasons by Suzanne Stewart (Pottersfield Press)

There’s Something in the Water:  Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities by Ingrid R. G. Waldron (Fernwood Publishing)

5.  Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

A Stone for Andrew Dunphy by Ronald Caplan (Breton Books)

Where Duty Lies:  A New Brunswick Soldier in the Trenches of World War 1 by John Cunningham (Pottersfield Press)

The Blind Mechanic:  The Amazing Story of Eric Davidson, Survivor of the 1917 Halifax Explosion by Marilyn Davidson Elliott (Nimbus Publishing)

6.  Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award

Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief  by Kate Inglis (Shambhala Publications)

No Place to Go:  How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs by Lezlie Lowe (Coach House Books)

Following the River:  Traces of Red River Women by Lorri Neilsen Glenn (Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd.)

7.  Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction), presented by Boyne Clarke LLP

A Circle on the Surface by Carol Bruneau (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)

Beholden by Lesley Crewe (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)

In the Wake by Nicola Davison (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)

8.  J.M. Abraham Poetry Award

Ruba’iyat for the Time of Apricots by Basma Kavanagh (Frontenac House)

No Meeting Without Body by Annick MacAskill (Gaspereau Press)

This Kind of Thinking Does No Good by Alison Smith (Gaspereau Press)

9.  Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration

Illustrator:  Eva Campbell (nominee) for Africville

Written by Shauntay Grant (Groundwood Books)

Illustrator: Lil Crump (nominee) for Anna at the Art Museum

Written by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert (Annick Press)

Illustrator:  Alan Syliboy (nominee) for Mi’kmaw Animals/Mi’kmaw Waisisk

Written by Alan Syliboy (Nimbus Publishing)

10.  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 Simply Sage Solutions

Son of a Critch:  A Childish Newfoundland Memoir by Mark Critch (Viking Canada)

No Place To Go:  How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs by Lezlie Lowe (Coach House Books)

Louisbourg or Bust:  A Surfer’s Wild Ride Down Nova Scotia’s Drowned Coast by RC Shaw (Pottersfield Press)

11.  Margaret and John Savage First Book Award – Fiction sponsored by Royden Trainor, Weed Man Maritimes and the family of John and Margaret Savage

The Boat People by Sharon Bala (McClelland & Stewart)

In The Wake by Nicola Davison (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)

Catching the Light by Susan Sinnott (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)

12.  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)

First Degree:  From Medical School to Murder by Kayla Hounsell (Nimbus Publishing)

Threads in the Acadian Fabric:  Nine Generations of an Acadian Family by Simone Poirier-Bures (Pottersfield Press)

13.  Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

The Boat People by Sharon Bala(McClelland & Stewart)

Hysteria by Elisabeth de Mariaffi (HarperCollins Publishers)

Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore (House of Anansi Press)