Ann Shin wins $20K Trillium Book Award for debut novel The Last Exiles

The Toronto author's The Last Exiles is a novel which offers a rare glimpse into life in North Korea. Iranian Canadian writer Bardia Sinaee won the $10,000 poetry prize for Intruder. The annual prize recognizes the best book from writers in Ontario.

The annual prize recognizes the best book from writers in Ontario

Ann Shin is a Canadian writer and filmmaker. (Katia Taylor)

Ann Shin has won the 2022 Trillium Book Award for her debut novel The Last Exiles.

The $20,000 prize recognizes the best book from writers in Ontario.

The Last Exiles is a novel which offers a rare glimpse into life in North Korea and the experiences of those daring enough to try to escape. It is a story about two young lovers, Jin and Suja, who meet in university and whose class differences become apparent when they return home.

When Jin sees how much his family is struggling, he decides to escape. When Suja discovers this, she sets after him, and what unfolds is a dangerous and precarious journey for them both.

Shin is a Canadian poet and filmmaker whose documentary My Enemy, My Brother was shortlisted for a 2016 Academy Award and nominated for an Emmy. The Last Exiles was based on her documentary The Defector, which won seven Canadian Screen Academy awards. Her poetry book The Family China received the Anne Green Award in 2013.

LISTEN | Ann Shin on The Next Chapter:

Ann Shin on the inspiration behind her novel, The Last Exiles.

The other finalists for this year's prize were Missed Connections by Brian Francis, Æther by Catherine Graham, The Pump by Sydney Hegele (formerly Sydney Warner Brooman) and The Hunter and the Old Woman by Pamela Korgemagi.

Bardia Sinaee won the $10,000 poetry prize for Intrudera timely collection about an unsettled and struggling world. It includes a 12-part prose poem about Sinaee's cancer diagnosis and subsequent recovery in his early 20s as well as poems written while living in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Intruder is a poetry collection by Bardia Sinaee. (House of Anansi Press)

Sinaee is a writer from Iran who now lives in Toronto. His work has appeared in The Walrus, Canadian Notes and Queries and the Best Canadian Poetry anthologies.

The other poetry finalists were Roxanna Bennett for The Untranslatable I  and Liz Howard for Letters in a Bruised Cosmos.

The Trillium Book Awards were established in 1987 and celebrate the achievements of Ontario's English and Francophone authors. Presented by Ontario Creates, this year's event was an in-person event following two years of virtual award presentations.

The French winners were Danièle Vallée for Sept nuits dans la vie de Chérie and Éric Mathieu for Capitaine Boudu et les enfants de la Cédill.

Last year's winners were Souvankham Thammavongsa for her short story collection How to Pronounce Knife and Jody Chan for her poetry collection sick.

Other past winners include Margaret AtwoodMichael Ondaatje and Anne Michaels.

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