26 Canadian books that won awards in the first half of 2019

Canadian writers have been busy collecting awards this year. Here's a round-up of books that have won national and international awards in the first half of 2019.

Canadian writers have been busy collecting awards this year. Here's a round-up of books that have won national and international awards in the first half of 2019.

Fiction | Nonfiction | Poetry | Comics


Escape by Linwood Barclay

The adventures of 12-year-old Jeff and his genetically engineered spy dog Chipper continue in Linwood Barclay's sequel to Chase. (Puffin Canada, Bill Taylor)

Linwood Barclay's middle-grade novel is the second in a series about a part-robot dog named Chipper who runs away from a secret institution and forges a friendship with three preteens.

Escape won the Arthur Ellis Award for best juvenile/young adult crime book.

How Far We Go and How Fast by Nora Decter

How Far We Go and How Fast is a novel by Nora Decter. (Orca Book Publishers, John Stintzi)

Nora Decter's novel tells the story of a 16-year-old girl named Jolene who takes solace in the fact that her dysfunctional, drunken family have a passion, and maybe a little talent, for music.

How Far We Go and How Fast won the $10,000 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for fiction.

Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin

Cobra Clutch is a crime novel by A.J. Devlin. (Gina Spanos Photography, NeWest Press)

The B.C. writer's debut kicks off a series about a former pro-wrestler named "Hammerhead" Jed Ounstead, who finds himself in the clutches of Vancouver's underworld while looking for his former partner's kidnapped pet snake.

Cobra Clutch won the Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel.

Though the Heavens Fall by Anne Emery

Though the Heavens Fall is a mystery by Anne Emery. (ECW Press)

Though the Heavens Fall is the latest instalment in Anne Emery's popular Collins-Burke mystery series. The book takes place in Belfast of 1995, as the Irish Republican Army calls for a ceasefire to the violence that has ripped through the city, which lures Collins and Burke to town. 

Though the Heavens Fall  won the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel.

Steeped in Love by Julie Evelyn Joyce

Steeped in Love is a romance novel by Julie Evelyn Joyce. (

This self-published novel follows a young entrepreneur searching for clues about her love life in tea leaves, while a nearby novelist eavesdrops on her regrettable dating experiences.

Steeped in Love won the $10,0000 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for romance.

The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

Larissa Lai is the author of The Tiger Flu. (Monique de St. Croix, Arsenal Pulp Press)

This cyberpunk thriller follows a doctor apprentice named Kirilow who seeks a "starfish" — a person who can regenerate their own limbs and organs — after his partner dies. The Tiger Flu is Larissa Lai's third novel.

The Tiger Flu won the Lambda Literary Award for lesbian fiction.

Little Fish by Casey Plett

Little Fish by Casey Plett won the 2019 Amazon Canada First Novel Award. (Arsenal Pulp Press, CBC)

Casey Plett's debut novel follows a 30-year-old trans woman named Wendy Reimer, who reflects back on the trials and triumphs of her life and discovers a surprising secret about her devout Mennonite grandfather.

Little Fish won the $60,000 Amazon Canada First Novel Award, the Lambda Literary Award for transgender fiction and the Firecracker Award for fiction.

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

Split Tooth is Polaris Prize-winning artist Tanya Tagaq's first book. (Penguin Random House, Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Tanya Tagaq's celebrated first novel follows a young girl's upbringing in 1970s Nunavut, a place of mythic natural wonders as well as addiction and violence.

Split Tooth won the $2,000 Indigenous Voices Award for best published prose in English.

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Jonny Appleseed is a novel by Joshua Whitehead. (sweetmoon photography, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Joshua Whitehead's debut novel tells the story of an Indigenous cybersex worker known as "NDN glitter princess" who contemplates a trip back to his reserve for his stepfather's funeral.

Jonny Appleseed won the Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction.


Meltdown by Chris Clearfield and Andras Tilcsik

András Tilscik and Chris Clearfield have written Meltdown, a book which looks at how systems that are overly complex can experience catastrophic failures. (Penguin Random House)

Meltdown analyzes how disasters in the transportation, medical and nuclear sectors often share common causes. The book combines real-life stories and social science research to explain how the ever-increasing complex systems we rely on are making it harder for our brains to keep up. 

Meltdown won the $30,000 National Business Book Award.

Indigenous Nationals, Canadian Citizens by Thomas J. Courchene

Indigenous Nationals, Canadian Citizens is a nonfiction book by Thomas J. Courchene. (McGill-Queen's University Press)

Queen's University economics professor Thomas J. Courchene's book looks at the history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations over the past 150 years.

Indigenous Nationals, Canadian Citizens won the Donner Prize, a $50,000 prize for the best Canadian book on public policy.

Boys by Rachel Giese

Rachel Giese is a journalist and the author of Boys. (HarperCollins Canada,

Rachel Giese, a journalist from Toronto, delves into cultural norms around masculinity in her book and the ways it's shifted over time. As the mother of a young boy, Giese uses historical, sociological and psychological research to understand how she can help her son develop healthy relationships as he grows up.

Boys won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize, a $25,000 prize for political writing.

Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris

Kate Harris is a writer and explorer. (Piia Kortsalo, Knopf Canada)

Kate Harris's book chronicles her 10-month cycling trip on the ancient Silk Road, a 10,000 km journey that took her and her travel companion through 10 countries. Along the journey, Harris explores the political, cultural and environmental history of the places and people she encounters, weaving in personal anecdotes that inform her perspective as a contemporary explorer.

Lands of Lost Borders won the $30,000 RBC Taylor Prize for nonfiction and the $10,000 Kobo Emerging Writer Award for nonfiction.

Boy Wonders by Cathal Kelly

Cathal Kelly is a sports columnist and the author of the memoir Boy Wonders. (CBC)

Sports journalist Cathal Kelly's memoir, Boy Wondersuses humour to describe his hardscrabble upbringing in a single-parent household during the 1970s and 1980s in Toronto's west end.

Boy Wonders won the $15,000 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for humour.

Politicized Microfinance by Caroline Shenaz Hossein

Politicized Microfinance is a nonfiction book by Caroline Shenaz Hossein. (, University of Toronto Press)

Caroline Shenaz Hossein's book explores microbanking in Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad, revealing how social, historical and political prejudices have hampered its success as a tool of financial development for low-income individuals and communities.

Politicized Microfinance won the Suraj Mal and Shyama Devi Agarwal Book Prize, which is given biennially to a book in the field of feminist economics.

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman

The Real Lolita is a nonfiction book by Sarah Weinman. (Knopf Canada, Anna Ty Bergman)

This book by New York journalist Sarah Weinman investigates how the kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl named Sally Horner influenced Vladimir Nabokov to write the novel Lolita.

The Real Lolita won the Arthur Ellis Award for best nonfiction crime book.


Ekke by Klara du Plessis

Ekke is a poetry collection by Klara du Plessis. (Palimpsest Press)

Ekke is a debut poetry collection that explores Klara du Plessis's roots in South Africa and current life in Montreal through long, essay-like poems.

Ekke won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, a $2,000 prize for a book of poetry written by a Canadian woman.

I left nothing inside on purpose by Stevie Howell

I left nothing inside on purpose is a poetry collection by Stevie Howell. (McClelland & Stewart, Stevie Howell)

Stevie Howell's second collection is an intimate, sophisticated and wide-ranging exploration of human nature — the ways we change and stay the same, the ways violence shapes us physically or emotionally — and takes place across a spectrum of settings.

I left nothing inside on purpose won the Raymond Souster Award, a $2,000 prize given to a poetry book by a member of the League of Canadian Poets.

Quarrels by Eve Joseph

Quarrels is a poetry collection by Eve Joseph. (, Anvil Press)

Quarrels, a slim volume of prose poems, collects a series of vivid scenes evoking both the ordinary and the fantastic. Characters drift in and out of the book without explanation or apology, but always leaving their mark.

Quarrels won the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Obits by Tess Liem

Obits is a poetry collection by Tess Liem​. (Coach House Books)

Tess Liem's first book Obits is a collection of obituaries for people who haven't been mourned in full.

Obits won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, a $2,000 prize for a debut book of poetry.

you are enough: love poems for the end of the world by Smokii Sumac

you are enough is a collection of poems by Smokii Sumac. (Sweetmoon Photography, Kegedonce Press)

Smokii Sumac's debut book explores two years of his life as a Ktunaxa Two-Spirit person, recovering from depression, finding healing through ceremony and falling in and out of love.

you are enough won the $2,000 Indigenous Voices Award for published poetry in English.


100 Days in Uranium City by Ariane Dénommé

Ariane Dénommé's comic book in its original French was nominated for the Bédélys Québec Prize in 2017. (

100 Days in Uranium City tells the story of a northern mining town where workers spend 100 gruelling days in the mines before returning home for a two-week reprieve.

100 Days in Uranium City won the Doug Wright Spotlight Award, which goes to a comic artist deserving of greater recognition.

Retomber by Xiaoxiao Li

Retomber is a comic by Xiaoxiao Li. (

This autobiographical comic recounts 12 days of the artist's life, rendered with surrealist imagery and a text message conversation about love, roommates and art.

Retomber won the Pigskin Peters Award, which recognizes a Canadian avant-garde comic.

Young Frances by Hartley Lin

Hartley Lin has published comics under his pseudonym Ethan Rilly. (Adhouse Books)

Young Frances follows a young, talented law clerk named Frances Scarland who struggles with the idea of work-life balance as her career at a corporate Toronto firm accelerates at a rapid pace. 

Young Frances won the Doug Wright Award for best book.

The Lie and How We Told It by Tommi Parrish

The Lie and How We Told It is a graphic novel by Tommi Parrish. (Fantagraphics Books)

The Lie and How We Told It is a comic about two estranged friends struggling to reconnect. Tommi Parrish is from Australia and now lives in Montreal.

The Lie and How We Told It won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ graphic novels.

Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

Surviving the City is Tasha Spillett's debut graphic novel. It's illustrated by Natasha Donovan. (Portage & Main Press)

This debut comic follows two Indigenous best friends — Miikwan is Anishinaabe and Dez is Inninew — who are coming of age in an urban environment where women from their community are disappearing.

Surviving the City won the $2,000 Indigenous Voices Award for works in an alternative format.


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