Books by Desmond Cole, Thomas King & Silvia Moreno-Garcia among 10 finalists for 2021 Evergreen Award

The award is run by Ontario Library Association, and Book clubs, public libraries and other community forums can participate in voting for the winner.
Desmond Cole, Thomas King and Silvia Moreno-Garcia are among the 10 finalists for the 2021 Evergreen Award. (Chris Young/Canadian Press, CBC/Sinisa Jolic, Martin Dee)

The finalists for the 2021 Evergreen Award have been announced by the Ontario Library Association.

Desmond Cole, Thomas King and Silvia Moreno-Garcia are among the 10 finalists. Cole is nominated for his nonfiction book The Skin We're In , King is nominated for his novel Indians on Vacation, while Moreno-Garcia is a finalist for her novel Mexican Gothic.

A committee of library professionals chooses the 10 finalists. Readers from across Canada can vote on the winner in September. 

Book clubs, public libraries and other community forums can participate in the program. Readers from more than 85 libraries participated in the 2020 program.

The 2021 finalists are:

The winner will be revealed in October 2021, during Ontario Public Library Week.

Last year's winner was Alicia Elliott for her essay collection A Mind Spread Out on the Ground.

Other past winners of the include Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron and The Break by Katherena Vermette.

The Evergreen Award is part of the annual Ontario-wide Forest of Reading program.

The Forest of Reading program also has six English-language categories for readers in kindergarten through to high school. The finalists for those categories were announced in October 2020.

The Forest of Reading program is organized by the Ontario Library Association.

You can get to know the 2021 finalists below.

Broken Man on a Halifax Pier by Lesley Choyce

Broken Man on a Halifax Pier is a novel by Lesley Choyce. (, Dundurn Press)

In Broken Man on a Halifax Pier, the broken man is 55-year-old Charles Howard. He's lost his job and his life savings. But when his daily ritual of feeling sorry for himself on a Halifax pier is interrupted by a mysterious young woman, an unusual relationship begins. Charles is left to confront his past, while trying to find hope for the future.

Lesley Choyce is a writer from Nova Scotia, who has published nearly 100 books. His work includes fiction, poetry, nonfiction and children's books. He is also the publisher of Pottersfield Press.

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

Michelle Good is a writer of Cree ancestry and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. (Kent Wong, Harper Perennial)

In Five Little Indians, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie were taken from their families and sent to a residential school when they were very small. Barely out of childhood, they are released and left to contend with the seedy world of eastside Vancouver. Fuelled by the trauma of their childhood, the five friends cross paths over the decades and struggle with the weight of their shared past. 

Five Little Indians was on the longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Michelle Good is a Cree writer and lawyer, as well as a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Five Little Indians is her first book.

Michelle Good, who is nehiyaw from Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, wrote about a fictional story about five residential school survivors who stuck together as children but, chart their own difficult paths as young adults.

I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder by Sarah Kurchak

I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder is a book by Sarah Kurchak. (Jenna Marie Wakani, Douglas & McIntyre)

Sarah Kurchak was diagnosed with autism at 27 years old. While she was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, she realized she was different from her peers — and did everything to overcome it. I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder is a memoir about how Kurchak became "an autistic 'success' story," how it almost ruined her life and what she did to reclaim her identity and her health.

Kurchak is a writer whose work has appeared in the Guardian, CBC, Vox and Electric Literature. I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder is her first book.

Thomas King talks about the autobiographical inspiration by his novel Indians on Vacation, which is longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Indians on Vacation by Thomas King

Indians on Vacation is a novel by Thomas King. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic, HarperCollins Publishers)

Indians on Vacation is about a couple named Bird and Mimi, who decide to travel through Europe after discovering postcards from Mimi's long-lost Uncle Leroy, who sent them while on his own European adventure almost 100 years ago.

Indians on Vacation was on the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize shortlist and was on the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

Thomas King is a Canadian-American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. His books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient IndianGreen Grass, Running Water and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's novel Mexican Gothic follows an heiress's investigation into her cousin's hasty marriage and mysterious illness.

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang

The Library of Legends is a novel by Janie Chang. (HarperCollins Canada)

In The Library of Legends19-year-old Hu Lian and her classmates are ordered to flee as Japanese bombs start to land on Nanking. It's not just refugees who are in danger — Lian has been entrusted with a 500-year-old collection of myths and legends known as "The Library of Legends." It's now up to Lian and her classmates to protect the collection at any cost. 

Janie Chang is a historical fiction writer. Chang's first novel, Three Souls, was a finalist for the 2014 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and nominated for the 2015 International Dublin Literary Award. She published her second novel, Dragon Springs Road in 2017.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A composite photo of a book cover featuring the silhouette of a woman in an off the shoulder marron dress and the book's author, a young woman with long hair and glasses looking at the camera.
Mexican Gothic is a novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. (Del Ray, Martin Dee)

Mexican Gothic is a gothic horror novel set in 1950s Mexico. It tells the story of a young woman named Noemi who is called by her cousin to save her from doom in her countryside home, the mysterious and alluring High Place. Noemi doesn't know much about the house, the region or her cousin's mysterious new husband, but she's determined to solve this mystery and save her cousin — whatever it takes.

Mexican Gothic is in development to become a TV series for Hulu.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a Canadian author, who was born and raised in Mexico. She is also the author of the novels Signal to Noise, which won the 2016 Copper Cylinder Award, Gods of Jade and Shadow and The Beautiful Ones. She is also a critic and has edited science fiction anthologies. 

Farzana Doctor tackles taboo subjects in her new novel Seven.

Rebent Sinner by Ivan Coyote

Rebent Sinner is a nonfiction book by Ivan Coyote. (Emily Cooper, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Ivan Coyote is a filmmaker, storyteller and writer. Rebent Sinner is an essay collection from various aspects of Coyote's life: helping younger LGBTQ folks, paying homage to their heroes, dealing with legislation and governments and being part of protests. Rebent Sinner is about Coyote's journey and shares a message of resilience, inclusion and hope.

Coyote's previous memoir, Tomboy Survival Guidewas a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction in 2017.

Toronto journalist Desmond Cole talks about his bestselling debut nonfiction book, The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power.

Seven by Farzana Doctor

Seven is a book by Farzana Doctor. (Dundurn)

In Seven, Sharifa accompanies her husband on a marriage-saving trip to India, and in order to research her great-great-grandfather — a business-owner and philanthropist. She is fascinated by his four wives, who are never mentioned in her family. At the same time, she tries to reach a middle ground in an ideologically-divided community. 

Farzana Doctor is a Canadian novelist and social worker. Her novels include All Inclusive and Six Metres of Pavement.

The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole

The Skin We're In is a nonfiction book by Desmond Cole. (Doubleday Canada, Chris Young/Canadian Press)

In The Skin We're In, journalist and activist Desmond Cole looks at what it's like to live in Canada as a Black person. In The Skin We're In looks at one year, 2017, and chronicles Cole's personal journalism, activism and experiences alongside stories that made the headlines across the country, including refugees crossing the Canada-U.S. border in the middle of winter and the death of Somali-Canadian Abdirahman Abdi at the hands of the Ottawa police.

 The Skin We're In won the 2020 Toronto Book Award.

Cole is a journalist, radio host and activist based in Toronto. His writing has appeared in the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Now Magazine and the Walrus. The Skin We're In is his first book.

They Said This Would Be Fun by Eternity Martis

They Said This Would Be Fun is a book by Eternity Martis. (McClelland & Stewart,

Eternity Martis was smart, bookish and excited to go to university. But once she got to campus, life wasn't what she imagined. She was often the only student of colour in classes, at parties and in dorms, and had to face racial slurs, students in blackface at parties and more on a regular basis. They Said This Would Be Fun is a memoir about the difficulty of navigating through white spaces as a student of colour and asks us to confront the systemic issues that define the college experience for racialized and marginalized students.

Martis is a Toronto-based journalist, author and senior editor at Xtra. Her work focuses on issues of race and gender and has been featured in Vice, Salon, Hazlitt,, The Walrus, Huffington Post and CBC. They Said This Would Be Fun is her first book.

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