Cherie Dimaline wins U.S. Kirkus Prize for The Marrow Thieves

The YA author, who recently won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text, will take home a prize of $50,000 U.S. (approx. $64,370 Cdn.)
Cherie Dimaline is the author of The Marrow Thieves. (Cherie Dimaline/Dancing Cat Books)

Georgian Bay Métis author Cherie Dimaline caps off a banner week with a second major literary prize win: her dystopian novel The Marrow Thieves took home the 2017 Kirkus Prize for young readers' literature. The U.S. award comes with a purse of $50,000 U.S. (approx. $64,370 Cdn).

Just two days ago, Dimaline won one of Canada's oldest and most prestigious prizes: the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text, a $25,000 prize.

Set in a dystopian North America, The Marrow Thieves follows a young Indigenous teenager named Frenchie who is on the run from sinister forces. Residential school recruiters are hunting and harvesting Indigenous people for their bone marrow. Frenchie ultimately joins a group heading north to possible sanctuary, and learns how to hunt, conceal and survive.

"A dystopian world that is all too real and that has much to say about our own," says Kirkus' starred review of Dimaline's novel.

Dimaline, who currently lives in Toronto, is also the author of A Gentle Habit and The Girl Who Grew a GalaxyShe is the coordinator of the Indigenous Writers' Gathering, an annual event.

Kirkus is an American literary publication that annually awards three $50,000 U.S. (approx. $64,370 Cdn) prizes — one for fiction, one for nonfiction and one for young readers' literature. All books that receive a rare starred review from Kirkus are nominated for the prize. The winner is selected by a group of writers, booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.

The fiction prize was won by Lesley Nneka Arimah for What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky, a debut collection of supernatural short stories set in Nigeria.

"Arimah has skill in abundance: the stories here are solid and impeccably crafted and strike at the heart of the most complicated of human relationships," says the Kirkus review of Arimah's book.

The nonfiction prize was won by Jack E. Davis for The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea. A history of environmental disaster told through the Gulf of Mexico, the book won for its "elegant narrative braced by a fierce, sobering environmental conviction." 

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