Madeleine Thien, theQuebec City-based author of Certainty, has won the 2006 First Novel Award from Amazon.ca and Books in Canada.
A multi-generational family saga which digs up secrets in the past of an Asian-Canadian family, Certainty was also a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize.
It took Thien, 32, five years to write the book. Born in Vancouver, she studied dance at Simon Fraser University before switching to the University of British Columbia's creative-writing program.
She previously published a book of short stories, Simple Recipes, and said she came to Certainty after the death of her mother, when she was thinking about what death entails.
The first novel award comes with a prize of $7,500.
The other finalists were Peter Behrens's The Law of Dreams, John Degen's The Uninvited Guest, Annette Lapointe's Stolen, Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals and Adam Lewis Schroeder's Empress of Asia.