Books

Books by Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Kate Beaton & Saeed Teebi among 10 nominees for 2023 Evergreen Award

The annual award, run by the Ontario Library Association, recognizes the best Canadian fiction and nonfiction titles for adults. Book clubs, public libraries and other community forums can participate in voting for the winner.

The Evergreen Award recognizes the best Canadian fiction and nonfiction titles for adults

The image is three photos spliced together of three people. On the left, a Black man in a blue-collared shirt smiles to camera with his head resting on his right hand. In the middle, a white, brunette woman smiles to camera. On the right, a middle-eastern man looks to camera, stoically.
From left: Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Kate Beaton and Saeed Teebi are among the finalists for the 2023 Evergreen Award. (Kyla Zanardi, Drawn & Quarterly, Eduardo Martins)

The finalists for the 2023 Evergreen Award have been announced by the Ontario Library Association.

Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Kate Beaton and Saeed Teebi are among the 10 finalists.

Abdelmahmoud is nominated for his debut book, Son of Elsewhere. The memoir was also chosen by CBC Books as one of the best nonfiction books of 2022. Abdelmahmoud is a journalist and the host of CBC's Commotion, a new pop culture radio show premiering Jan. 30. 

Beaton is nominated for her graphic memoir Ducks. Ducks was named one of CBC Books' top Canadian comics of 2022 and was also one of two Canadian books on Barack Obama's list of favourite books of 2022

The graphic memoir is also on the Canada Reads 2023 longlist

Teebi is nominated for his short story collection Her First Palestinian. The author told CBC's Here and Now Toronto that being shortlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize for his story Her First Palestinian was instrumental to his writing career and led to his debut book.

Her First Palestinian was shortlisted for the 2022 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction.

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. 

The 2023 finalists are:

The winner will be revealed in October 2023, during Ontario Public Library Week.

Last year's winner was Ontario writer Mary Lawson for her novel A Town Called Solace

Other past winners include Five Little Indians by Michelle Good, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott, 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 2022.

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

You can get to know the 2023 finalists below.

A Convergence of Solitudes by Anita Anand

A Convergence of Solitudes is a book by Anita Anand. (Book*Hug Press, Alexis LaFlamme)

A Convergence of Solitudes traces the interconnectedness and division of two families across political and cultural lines as they navigate their personal lives amid the Partition of India, Operation Babylift in Vietnam, and two referendums in Quebec.

Anand is a writer, translator and language teacher from Montreal. She is the author of Swing in the House and Other Stories, which won the 2015 QWF Concordia University First Book Prize and was shortlisted for the 2016 Relit Award for Fiction. 

Cobalt by Charlie Angus 

Cobalt is a book by Charlie Angus. (House of Anansi Press, Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Charlie Angus traces the early-twentieth-century mining rush in a small town in Northern Canada called Cobalt and explains how that time period formed the blueprint for resource extraction worldwide with Canada at the helm as the world's mining superpower. 

Angus has been the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay since 2004. He is the author of eight books about the North, Indigenous issues and mining culture, including Children of the Broken Treaty. He is also the lead singer of the Juno-nominated alternative country band Grievous Angels. Angus and his wife raised their family at an abandoned mine site in Cobalt, Ont. 

LISTEN | Charlie Angus on what inspired his book Cobalt

Ducks by Kate Beaton 

Ducks is a graphic novel by Kate Beaton. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Ducks is an autobiographical graphic novel that recounts author Kate Beaton's time spent working in the Alberta oil sands. With the goal of paying off her student loans, Kate leaves her tight-knit seaside Nova Scotia community and heads west, where she encounters harsh realities, including the everyday trauma that no one discusses.

Beaton is a cartoonist from Nova Scotia who launched her career by publishing the comic strip Hark! A Vagrant online. The sassy historical webcomic gained a following of 500,000 monthly visitors and was eventually turned into a bestselling book. Beaton's success continued with the book Step Aside, Pops, which won the 2016 Eisner Award for best humour publication. Beaton has also published two children's books, King Baby and The Princess and the Pony.

LISTEN | Kate Beaton discusses Ducks with Shelagh Rogers:

Kate Beaton talks to Shelagh Rogers about her graphic memoir, Ducks.

Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi 

A book cover and a portrait of a man
Her First Palestinian is a book by Saeed Teebi. (House of Anansi, Jeff Clifford)

Her First Palestinian is a debut collection of short stories revolving around the Palestinian immigrant experience in Canada. The stories explore themes of identity, loss, power and belonging as they look at the diverse and layered experiences of the Palestinian diaspora. One of the stories in the collection, the titular Her First Palestinian, was shortlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize.

Her First Palestinian was also a finalist for the 2022 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.

Teebi is a writer and lawyer based in Toronto. He was born to Palestinian parents in Kuwait and, after some time in the U.S., has lived in Canada since 1993. Her First Palestinian is his first book.

LISTEN | Saeed Teebi on how the CBC Short Story Prize launched his writing career: 

The Toronto lawyer and author talks to Eli Glasner on Here & Now about his short story collection Her First Palestinian.

Mad Honey by Katie Welch

Mad Honey is a book by Katie Welch. (Wolsak & Wynn, Kevin Bogetti-Smith)

Katie Welch's debut novel, Mad Honey, follows Melissa Makepeace, who's looking after the family farm amidst the disappearance of her boyfriend Beck Wise — the second person to vanish from her life after her father also went missing when she was only 11. But when Beck reappears three months later, he returns with the memory of having lived as a colony of bees. Trying to unravel this mystery, Melissa must also confront ongoing questions over where her father went. 

Raised in Ottawa, Welch studied English at the University of Toronto before settling in Kamloops, B.C., where she now writes fiction and teaches music. 

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel 

Sea of Tranquility is by Emily St. John Mandel. (Sarah Shatz/HarperCollins Canada)

Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel's sixth novel, traverses time, space and reality. It follows a wide range of characters living in British Columbia in 1912 and on the moon in 2401 as they come into contact with a time traveller who must resist the pull to change the past and the future.

The story explores a series of lives upended — from an exiled son driven mad by beauty and mystery in a Canadian forest to a writer living in a colony on the moon as a pandemic ravages Earth. 

The B.C.-born Mandel is a dual American Canadian citizen who currently spends her time between New York City and Los Angeles. Her other novels include The Glass Hotelwhich was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and selected by President Barack Obama as a favourite book of 2020; and Station Elevena bestseller adapted for HBO and a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

LISTEN | Emily St. John Mandel's new novel is a journey through time, space and speculative simulation:

Canadian writer Emily St. John Mandel was described as a prophetic visionary during the pandemic, for writing about a flu-like illness that shut down the world in her 2014 novel Station Eleven. The book surged in popularity during the actual pandemic and was adapted into an acclaimed television series. Her 2020 book, The Glass Hotel, also earned raves – Barack Obama listed it as one of his favourites of the year. In her much-anticipated follow-up, Sea of Tranquility, Mandel is once again revisiting life during global crisis – and yes, that includes pandemics. She sits down with Piya Chattopadhyay to talk about the new book, which takes readers on a journey through time travel, moon colonies, and big questions like whether we're all living in one big simulation.

Son of Elsewhere by Elamin Abdelmahmoud

Elamin Abdelmahmoud is the author of Son of Elsewhere. (CBC, McClelland & Stewart)

In his memoir Son of Elsewhere, Elamin Abdelmahmoud recounts his experience leaving his native Sudan and moving to Kingston, Ont. Like all teens, he spent his adolescence trying to figure out who he was, but he had to do it while learning to balance a new racial identity and all the assumptions that came with being Black and Muslim. Son of Elsewhere explores how our experiences and environments can define our identity and who we truly are. 

Abdelmahmoud is the host of CBC's weekly pop culture podcast Pop Chat, co-host of CBC's political podcast Party Lines and a frequent culture commentator for CBC News. He will host the upcoming CBC Radio show CommotionSon of Elsewhere is his first book.

LISTEN | Elamin Abdelmahmoud discusses Son of Elsewhere with Piya Chattopadhyay:

Elamin Abdelmahmoud has become a familiar face and voice to many Canadians. He's the host of CBC's Pop Chat and Party Lines podcasts. He's also known for his culture writing and political commentary. Now Abdelmahmoud is telling his own story in a new book, Son of Elsewhere: A Memoir in Pieces. His essays explore the culture shock he felt immigrating to Canada from Sudan as 12-year-old, how he carved out his identity and figured out his place in the world. He tells Piya Chattopadhyay how becoming a fan of professional wrestling and the teen drama The O.C. helped him navigate cultural barriers as an adolescent in Kingston, Ontario — and why country music and the American south speak to him as an adult.

This is Assisted Dying by Stefanie Green

This Is Assisted Dying is a book by Stefanie Green. (Scribner, Jacob C. Green)

Dr. Stefanie Green has worked in the field of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) since 2016. This is Assisted Dying is a personal memoir of her experiences with patients, as well as a comprehensive look into the emerging field. Green explains how the process works, different reasons people choose MAiD and addresses some of the ethical intricacies involved. 

Green is a B.C.-based author, medical advisor and clinical faculty at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria. She is also the co-founder and current President of the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers (CAMAP).

LISTEN | Stefanie Green on her new memoir:

Stefanie Green's new memoir is "This Is Assisted Dying: A Doctor's Story of Empowering Patients at the End of Life." This conversation was recorded in front of a live audience at the Vancouver Public Library.

Toufah by Toufah Jallow with Kim Pittaway

The black book cover features a portrait of a Black woman wearing an orange and white headpiece and long-sleeve shirt, which reads "surviving" down the middle of her shirt.
Toufah is a memoir by Toufah Jallow with Kim Pittaway. (Joana Draghici, Knopf Random Vintage Canada, kimpittaway.com)

Toufah Jallow's memoir tells the story of her life in Gambia when, at nineteen, she says she was drugged and raped by the then-Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh. Forced to flee her country and move to Canada, Jallow continues to fight for justice for herself and young women everywhere. 

Based in Toronto, Jallow, is an African anti-rape activist and author. 

Kim Pittaway is the executive director of the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at the University of King's College. She is a journalist and former editor-in-chief of ChatelaineShe lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

LISTEN | Toufah Jallow's memoir chronicles her fight for justice:

Fatou ‘Toufah’ Jallow was 18 years old when she alleges she was raped by former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh. She tells us what it was like to speak up, how she fled to Canada and how she used her experience to empower other sexual assault survivors in her homeland.

Valley of the Birdtail by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson 

A composite photo featuring a blue and green book cover with an illustration of a river and on either side, one of the book's authors, both who are black and white portraits of men with short hair in their 30s.
Valley of the Birdtail is a book by Andrew Stobo Sniderman, right, and Douglas Sanderson. (V. Tony Hauser, HarperCollins Canada)

In Western Manitoba, not too far from the Saskatchewan border, lies two neighbouring communities divided by River Valley.These two communities have co-existed for about as long as Canada has, but over the past 150 years, they've grown separately and unequally. 

In the mostly white town of Rossburn, family income is near the national average and roughly a third of the population has graduated from college or university. Across the river in the Indigenous community of Waywayseecappo, family income is far below the national average and less than a third of the residents have graduated from high school. 

Valley of the Birdtail by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson charts the trials and triumphs of these neighbouring communities through the lives of two residents and their families. The book is on CBC Books' list of the best nonfiction of 2022.

Sanderson, whose Cree name is Amo Binashii, is a Toronto-based lawyer and associate law professor. He is a member of the Beaver clan from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

Sniderman is a New York-based lawyer, writer and Rhodes Scholar from Montreal. 

LISTEN | Douglas Sanderson on The Valley of the Birdtail

An Indigenous and a white community living side by side...but separate. It's a familiar story in many parts of Canada, and it's the story told in the new book "Valley of the Birdtail". Faith Fundal speaks with one of the authors, Douglas Sanderson.

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