Aimee Wall & Lisa Bird-Wilson among finalists for $60K Amazon Canada First Novel Award

The annual prize recognizes the best debut Canadian novel of the year. The other finalists include Emily Austin, Pik-Shuen Fung and Brian Thomas Isaac.

The prize recognizes the best Canadian debut novel of the year

Canadian authors, Aimee Wall, left, and Lisa Bird-Wilson are finalists for the 2022 Amazon Canada First Novel Award (Richmond Lam, Harbour Publishing)

Newfoundland-born Aimee Wall and Métis and nêhiyaw writer Lisa Bird-Wilson are among the six finalists shortlisted for the 2022 Amazon Canada First Novel Award. 

Wall is nominated for her book We, Jane while Bird-Wilson is in the running for Probably Ruby

The award is a collaboration between Amazon Canada and The Walrus. It recognizes the best debut Canadian novel of the year.

This winner will receive $60,000 while the remaining finalists will each receive $6,000.

Wall's We, Jane is a novel about intergenerational female friendships and the power of care work for women by women. A present-day story about a character who travels to Newfoundland to continue the work of an underground abortion movement from 1960s Chicago, Wall explores the precarity of rural life, reproductive justice and finding home. 

The novel was also longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize. 

Bird-Wilson's Probably Ruby explores identity, belonging and the legacies left to us. Placed in foster care and adopted by a couple whose marriage later falls apart, Ruby searches for her Indigenous identity in the unlikeliest of places. 

The other finalists are Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin, Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung, All the Quiet Places by Brian Thomas Isaac and Avenue of Champions by Conor Kerr. 

Humourous and insightful, Austin's Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead follows Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, who stumbles into a job as a church receptionist after the former receptionist dies. The novel is a quirky rumination on death and what it means to experience a flawed human existence. 

Set in Edmonton, Kerr's Avenue of Champions explores the lives of Indigenous youth and the colonial contexts in which they grow up, including the violence, racism and trauma they endure and the cultural lessons, land rights, Elder relationships and language revitalization they fight for. 

Ghost Forest tells the story of an unnamed protagonist who must navigate unanswered questions, misunderstanding and grief in a Chinese-Canadian "astronaut" family after her father dies. Surfacing joy and heartbreak, Fung beautifully layers memory, history and abstraction in a poetic, haunting voice. 

All the Quiet Places is the story of what can happen when every adult in a person's life has been affected by colonialism. Thomas Isaac's narrative power comes through in Eddie, an unguarded and unsentimental voice whose experiences throughout the book convey the acute separation from culture that can occur even when at home surrounded by a familiar landscape. 

The jury is composed of Suzette Mayr, author of Monoceros and Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall, Casey Plett, winner of the 2019 Amazon First Novel Award for Little Fish and author of the A Dream of a Woman, David A. Robertson, author of The Theory of Crows and two Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture books, On the Trapline and When We Were Alone; and Joshua Whitehead, whose novel Jonny Appleseed won Canada Reads in 2021. 

The winner will be announced at an in-person award ceremony in Toronto on Wednesday, June 1.

Last year's winner was Michelle Good for her novel Five Little Indians, which also won Canada Reads in 2022. 

Other past winners include Stéphane Larue for The Dishwasher, Joy Kogawa for Obasan, Rohinton Mistry for Such a Long Journey, Anne Michaels for Fugitive Pieces and Madeleine Thien for Certainty

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