Nova Scotia writer Don Hannah, Newfoundland and Labrador's Bernice Morgan and New Brunswick's David Adams Richards are competing for the top fiction prize at the Atlantic Book Awards.

The prize pot for the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize, the largest of the Atlantic book prizes, has been raised to $15,000 this year.

Short lists for prizes in nine categories, with winners to be announced May 4 after the Atlantic Book Festival, were announced Wednesday.

The fiction nominees are:

  • Ragged Islands, by Hannah, about a Maritimer dying far from home and the secrets of her past.
  • Cloud of Bone, by Morgan, which weaves together the stories of the last surviving Beothuk, a Second World War deserter and a recently widowed English woman. Morgan is also author of Random Passage, which was made into a TV miniseries.
  • The Lost Highway, by Richards, is a story of greed and murder set in New Brunswick. Richards won a Giller Prize for Mercy Among the Children and is also winner of two Governor General's Awards.

Two CBC Radio journalists and a CBC-TV journalist have earned nominations. Fredericton reporter Jacques Poitras's non-fiction book about the battle over Lord Beaverbrook's art, Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy, has earned two nominations — for best published book and the Booksellers' Choice Award.

New Brunswick arts reporter Bob Mersereau's work on Canadian music, The Top 100 Canadian Albums, has earned a nomination for best first book. This controversial listing has sparked debate across the country on what makes the best Canadian music.

Other nominees for the first book award include CBC Radio host and producer Stephanie Domet's novel, Homing: the whole story (from the inside out), and Happiness of Fish, a novel by St. John's resident Fred Armstrong, a frequent contributor to CBC Radio.

Another book with a Beaverbrook connection is competing for the best published book award. Miller Brittain: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears, by Tom Smart, is a book based on a retrospective of Brittain, a Saint John, N.B., artist, at New Brunswick's Beaverbrook Gallery.

Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck, a children's book about a duck that lives in the Halifax Public Gardens, earned a best published book nomination for writer Judith Meyrick and a best illustration nomination for Richard Rudnicki.

Three books dealing with aspects of Nova Scotia history have won nominations in the non-fiction category:

  • Witch in the Wind: The True Story of the Legendary Bluenose by Marq de Villiers.
  • The Forgotten World of RJ MacSween: A Life, a biography of the priest-poet by Stewart Donovan.
  • Hunting Halifax: In Search of History, Mystery and Murder, by Steven Laffoley.

Witch in the Wind and the MacSween biography also earned nominations for the Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction, competing with Endgame 1758: The Promise, the Glory and the Despair, by A.J. B. Johnston. Hunting Halifax has a second nomination for Booksellers' Choice Award.

The nominees for poetry are:

  • Don Domanski, All Our Wonder Unavenged.
  • George Murray, The Rush to Here.
  • Anne Simpson, Quick.

Nominees for the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction are:

  • Beatrice MacNeil, Where White Horses Gallop.
  • Carol Bruneau, Glass Voices.
  • David Doucette, North of Smokey.

Nominees for the award for excellence in illustration:

  • Eric Orchard, A Forest For Christmas (Michael Harris, author).
  • Richard Rudnicki, Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck (Judith Meyrick, author).
  • Nancy Keating, A Puppy Story (Susan Pynn, author).

Nominees for the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature are:

  • Alice Walsh, A Sky Black with Crows.
  • K.V. Johansen, Nightwalker: The Warlocks of Talverdin.
  • Valerie Sherrard, Speechless.

Corrections

  • Bob Mersereau is an arts reporter for CBC-TV, not CBC Radio as originally reported. In addition, Miller Brittain is a Canadian artist born in Saint John, N.B., not a British artist.
    Apr 17, 2008 2:35 PM ET