Books by Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Kate Beaton & Saeed Teebi among 10 nominees for 2023 Evergreen Award
The Evergreen Award recognizes the best Canadian fiction and nonfiction titles for adults
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:
- A Convergence of Solitudes by Anita Anand
- Cobalt by Charlie Angus
- Ducks by Kate Beaton
- Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi
- Mad Honey by Katie Welch
- Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
- Son of Elsewhere by Elamin Abdelmahmoud
- This is Assisted Dying by Stefanie Green
- Toufah by Toufah Jallow with Kim Pittaway
- Valley of the Birdtail by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson
The winner will be revealed in October 2023, during Ontario Public Library Week.
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 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.
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 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:
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.
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:
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.
- Katie Welch's debut novel Mad Honey weaves magical realism through a mystery inspired by the natural world
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, 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 Hotel, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and selected by President Barack Obama as a favourite book of 2020; and Station Eleven, a 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:
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 Commotion. Son of Elsewhere is his first book.
LISTEN | Elamin Abdelmahmoud discusses Son of Elsewhere with Piya Chattopadhyay:
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:
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 Chatelaine. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
LISTEN | Toufah Jallow's memoir chronicles her fight for justice:
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: