16 Aug

Michelle Butler Hallet, recipient of the 2022 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Michelle Butler Hallett is the recipient of the 2022 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award for her book Constant Nobody, which was published by Goose Lane Editions in March 2021.

Michelle Butler Hallett, she/her, is a history nerd and disabled person who writes fiction about violence, evil, love, and grace. The Toronto Star describes her work as “perfectly paced and gracefully wrought,” while Quill and Quire calls it “complex, lyrical, and with a profound sense of a world long passed.” Her short stories are widely anthologized in Hard Ol’ Spot, The Vagrant Revue of New Fiction, Everything Is So Political, Running the Whale’s Back, and Best American Mystery Stories, and her essay “You’re Not ‘Disabled’ Disabled” appears in Land of Many Shores. Her most recent novel, This Marlowe, was longlisted for the ReLit Award and the Dublin International Literary Award. Her first novel, Double-blind, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award. Butler Hallett lives in St. John’s. Constant Nobody is her fifth novel.

In Constant Nobody, the time is 1937. The place: the Basque Country, embroiled in the Spanish Civil War. Polyglot and British intelligence agent Temerity West encounters Kostya Nikto, a Soviet secret police agent. Kostya has been dispatched to assassinate a doctor as part of the suppression of a rogue communist faction. When Kostya finds his victim in the company of Temerity, she expects Kostya to execute her — instead, he spares her. Several weeks later, Temerity is reassigned to Moscow. When she is arrested by the secret police, she once again encounters Kostya. His judgement impaired by pain, morphine, and alcohol, he extricates her from a dangerous situation and takes her to his flat. In the morning, they both awaken to the realities of what Kostya has done. Although Kostya wants to keep Temerity safe, the cost will be high. And Temerity must decide where her loyalties lie. Writing about violence with an unusual grace, Michelle Butler Hallett tells a story of complicity, love, tyranny, and identity. Constant Nobody is a thrilling novel that asks how far an individual will go to protect another — whether out of love or fear.

About Constant Nobody, the jury had this to say:

“The writing is fresh, skillful, and utterly compelling; the flawed protagonists are gradually and carefully revealed with sensitivity and depth; the times are harrowing. What we learn about their actions will haunt, confuse, and often sicken—laying bare the damages war causes on all sides. Constant Nobody is a powerful book in which both profound inhumanity and unlikely tenderness are real and believable. It’s a novel for our times, shockingly reverberating right up to the present.”

Original photography by Nicola Davison.

16 Aug

Mireille Eagan and Goose Lane with the Rooms Corporation, recipients of the 2022 APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award

Mireille Eagan and Goose Lane Editions are the recipients of the 2022 APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award for Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was written by Mireille and published by Goose Lane in February 2021.

Mireille is curator of contemporary art at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, St. John’s. Prior to this, she was curator at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Eagan has lectured nationally on Canadian art and has published several catalogues and essays on Canadian artists. She has a special interest in promoting the activities of artists based in the Atlantic provinces.

Goose Lane Editions is based in Fredericton, New Brunswick’s capital and is a vital part of Canada’s ever-morphing publishing landscape. Whether it’s homegrown Canadian fiction, singular collections of poetry, books on contemporary art, or courageous stances on environmental issues and global politics, we provide book lovers with great reads that inspire, spur conversation, and stimulate minds. The publisher seeks to represent a balance of voices and proudly embrace Queer Lit as well as First Nations and Inuit authors and artists who are shaping and transforming our perspectives. Goose Lane Editions will continue to embrace diversity, fresh voices and novel perspectives. They will keep on sharing stories that challenge, startle, and enlighten — and enhance our ability to be surprised and to be inspired.

In Future Possible, Mireille Eagan and other writers and artists navigate the tangled histories and cultures of Newfoundland and Labrador to investigate the visual output and to write the narrative that it has created. The result is an ambitious volume, arising from a two-part exhibition of the same name at The Rooms, that provides a multi-vocal, multi-faceted history spanning pre- and post-Confederation Newfoundland. Lavishly illustrated with reproductions of original works and installation views, Future Possible features essays by curators and artists on topics such as pre-Confederation art; contemporary art, craft, and Indigenous culture; and outsider and folk art. This intriguing volume places artifacts from the province’s history and work by iconic Newfoundland and Labrador artists such as Gerald Squires and Mary Pratt in conversation with works by contemporary artists like Jordan Bennett and Kym Greeley. Together they explore how history is told and retold through objects and images and how these objects and images, and the power structures that preserve them, define an understanding of place. Contributions from Mireille Eagan, Jamie Fitzpatrick, Andy Jones, Heather Igloliorte, Jeff Webb, Darryn Doull, Bushra Junaid, Cory Thorne, Kelley Totten, Patricia Grattan, Gerard Curtis, Caroline Stone, Craig Francis Power, Christopher Pratt, Logan MacDonald, Lisa Moore, Eva Crocker, Andria Hickey, and a foreword by Anne Chafe.

About Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador, the jury said:

“How can one not be seduced by the spectacular expedition through the visual arts of Newfoundland and Labrador that Future Possible  proposes? This work of exceptional graphic quality reveals a rich and astonishing artistic panorama of this territory, so vast and so diverse in its communities. The fruitful collaboration between Goose Lane Editions and The Rooms Art Gallery has obviously propelled the marketing of this book which has found its audience very well.”

Original photography by Nicola Davison.

16 Aug

Alea Marley, recipient of the 2022 Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration

Alea Marley is the recipient of the 2022 Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration for her illustrations in This is Ruby, which was written by Sara O’Leary. This is Ruby was published by Tundra Books in May 2021.

Alea is a children’s illustrator living and working in England. She was born in the UK and her family roots are from Barbados. She loves creating whimsical scenes that are filled with plant life, texture, and bursts of colour! Her favorite mediums to work with are mechanical pencils, watercolor crayons, and digital brushes. Marley’s publishing clients are Macmillan, Tundra, Abrams, Little Bee, Harper Collins and Walker Books.

Here’s more on This is Ruby:

Ruby is curious about her world and has big ideas about how it works. A delightful picture book celebration of science and creativity, and a welcome companion to Sara O’Leary’s beloved This Is Sadie. Ruby is a little girl with a sense of curiosity and enthusiasm that’s too big to contain! Ruby is always busy –– she loves to make things, watch things grow and figure out how things work, with her dog Teddy by her side. And Ruby has lots of ideas about what she wants to be: maybe an animal conservationist? Or an archaeologist? She’s great at excavating (i.e. digging holes). Or maybe an inventor? She’s already invented a book with smells instead of words (so dogs can read it) and a time machine (the dinosaurs did have feathers after all, and the future is looking wild). This is Ruby, and this is her world.

Alea’s illustrations in This is Ruby are wonderfully playful at the same time as they are incredibly skilled, a multifaceted talent paralleled only by Ruby herself. Here’s what the jury had to say about Alea’s illustrations for This is Ruby:

Every page has something different. This is a very appealing, special book with dynamic illustrations that changed spread to spread. The vibrant and dynamic work is sweet and simple and Ruby’s spunk shines.”

16 Aug

Alyda Faber, recipient of the 2022 J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award

Alyda Faber is the recipient of the 2022 J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award for her long poem Poisonous if Eaten Raw, which was published by Goose Lane Editions in March 2021.

Alyda is the author of Dust or Fire, Berlinale Erotik, and Poisonous If Eaten Raw. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Riddle Fence, the Malahat Review, Contemporary Verse 2, and the Fiddlehead. She teaches at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax.

In this experimental long poem sequence (Poisonous if Eaten Raw), Faber transforms the portrait poem into runic shapes, ice shelved, sculpted, louvered on a winter shoreline. Twenty years after her mother’s death, Faber untethers herself from the mother she thinks she knows with wild analogies: depicting her mother variously as King Lear’s Kent, a Camperdown elm, a black-capped chickadee, Neil Peart, Pope Innocent X, and a funnel spider. While embodying the passionate relationship between mother and daughter, Faber’s poems also expose the thorn in the flesh — the inability of mother and daughter to give each other what they most want to give. Endlessly discovered, yet ultimately unknowable, the poet’s mother is complex, mystifying, and unwavering: courageous in her decision to leave all that she knew behind; bewildering in her fidelity to a damaging marriage; steadfast in her devotion to a God who is at once adamant and the source of ephemeral beauty.

About Poisonous if Eaten Raw, the jury said: 

“What shape does the mother- / daughter passion assume / after the death of the mother?” This is the question at the heart of Alyda Faber’s transformative collection, Poisonous if Eaten Raw. With language that emerges from the underneath of things, Faber’s surreal portraits/possibilities are fraught with an ontological yearning for connection. With imaginative daring, these poems reach across self and other, offering new ways to think about beauty and grief “like the rain, in all the ways it falls.”

Original photography by Nicola Davison.

16 Aug

Ardath Whynacht, recipient of the 2022 Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing

Ardath Whynacht is the recipient of the 2022 Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing for Insurgent Love: Abolition and Domestic Homicide, which was published by Fernwood Publishing in October 2021.

Ardath is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Mount Allison University. She was a frontline youth worker for many years in organizations such as Leave Out ViolencE and Laing House and has more than a decade of experience conducting arts-based and participatory action research with youth with lived experience of mental illness. She was part of an adolescent psychiatry research and knowledge translation team at the IWK Health Centre and conducted a long-term study with survivors of inpatient care and incarceration who live with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. She is interested in how lived experiences with homophobia, white supremacy and settler colonialism manifest in self-harm, anxiety, and long-term, chronic mental health challenges for young people. She is currently the principal investigator on a SSRHC grant that explores transformative justice approaches for high-risk family violence and has a forthcoming book on abolition and intimate partner homicide. She is a past director on the board of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project and a current board member of Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax.

Here’s a closer look at her award-winning book, Insurgent Love:

Domestic homicide is violence that strikes within our most intimate relations. The most common strategy for addressing this kind of transgression relies on policing and prisons. But through examining commonly accepted typologies of high-risk intimate partner violence, Ardath Whynacht shows that policing can be understood as part of the same root problem as the violence it seeks to mend and provides an abolitionist frame for the most dangerous forms of intimate partner violence. This book illustrates that the origins of both the carceral state and toxic masculinity are situated in settler colonialism and racial capitalism and sees police homicide and domestic homicide as akin. Describing an experience of domestic homicide in her community and providing a deeply personal analysis of some of the most recent cases of homicide in Canada, the author inhabits the complexity of seeking abolitionist justice. Insurgent Love traces the major risk factors for domestic homicide within the structures of racial capitalism and suggests transformative, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, feminist approaches for safety, prevention and justice.

Here’s what the jury has to say about Insurgent Love: Abolition and Domestic Homicide:

“This book offers a level of analysis that is readable, if somewhat arresting. Insurgent Love confronts its immediate subject matter – the most extreme forms of domestic violence – normally as a principally sociocultural and political phenomenon, rather than the actions of a warped individual psychopathy. This book engages contemporary debates to make its arguments.”

Original photography by Nicola Davison.

16 Aug

Chad Lucas, recipient of the 2022 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature

Chad Lucas is the recipient of the 2022 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature for his debut novel Thanks a Lot, Universe, which was published by Amulet Books in May 2021.

Chad has been in love with words since he attempted his first novel on a typewriter in the sixth grade. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, communications advisor, freelance writer, part-time journalism instructor, and parenting columnist. His debut novel Thanks a Lot, Universe was named a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and a best middle grade book of 2021 by the School Library Journal, New York Public Library, and Canadian Children’s Book Centre. His second book, Let the Monster Out, released in May 2022. A proud descendant of the historic African Nova Scotian community of Lucasville, he lives with his family in Nova Scotia. He enjoys coaching basketball, and he’s rarely far from a cup of tea.

Here’s a bit on Thanks a Lot, Universe, which follows two middle schoolers, Brian and Ezra, as they try to understand each other and themselves:

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home or in class or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself, and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again… Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team—even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize he has a crush on him… But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves—and in each other.

Here’s what the jury had to say about Thanks A Lot Universe

“From a title that’s open to more than one interpretation to a final page with just enough loose ends, Thanks a Lot, Universe is a book you can’t put down. How did Chad Lucas get the voices of two 13-year-old boys pitch-perfect and completely distinct? How did he slip in so easily that one of these boys is white and the other black? How did he deal in depth with mental illness, the underground economy, the risks of coming out gay, social anxiety, and racism, yet at the same time write a novel imbued with the power of kindness and laugh-out-loud, guy-humour? Bullies and basketballs, guitars and girls, parents and panic attacks, they’re all there. And the kicker? This is Chad Lucas’s debut novel.”

Original photography by Nicola Davis.

16 Aug

David Huebert, recipient of the 2022 Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction

David Huebert is the 2022 recipient of the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction for Chemical Valley, a collection published by Biblioasis in October 2021. Chemical Valley was also a finalist for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award.

David is a writer and educator from Halifax, NS with a PhD from Western University. Over the years, his work has won several esteemed awards, including the CBC Short Story Prize and The Walrus Poetry Prize. His first work of fiction, Peninsula Sinking, received the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award––now the Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction)––and was shortlisted for the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction.

From refinery operators to long term care nurses, dishwashers to preppers to hockey enforcers, Chemical Valley’s compassionate and carefully wrought stories cultivate rich emotional worlds in and through the dankness of our bio-chemical animacy. Full-hearted, laced throughout with bruised optimism and sincere appreciation of the profound beauty of our wilted, wheezing world, Chemical Valley doesn’t shy away from urgent modern questions—the distribution of toxicity, environmental racism, the place of technoculture in this ecological spasm—but grounds these anxieties in the vivid and often humorous intricacies of its characters’ lives. Swamp-wrought and heartfelt, these stories run wild with vital energy, tilt and teeter into crazed and delirious loves.

Here’s what the jurors had to say about Chemical Valley:

“In this courageous collection David Huebert holds little back as he weaves superbly crafted stories of the dark, difficult, and gritty reality of being human. Whether it be the destructive impact we have on our environment, each other, or ourselves, Huebert tackles this challenge with intelligence and compassion, both in his language and style and in the empathy with which he portrays the human experience. The intertwining of ugliness and beauty, metallic cold and human warmth, and destruction and hope, creates a visceral, hopeful, and rewarding experience for the reader.”

Photography by Nicola Davis.