Canadians Ben Philippe and Nafiza Azad shortlisted for William C. Morris Award for debut YA fiction

The U.S.-based award is given for YA books by a debut author. The winner will be announced Jan. 27, 2020.
Canadians Ben Philippe and Nafiza Azad are finalists for the 2019 William C. Morris Award. (, submitted by Scholastic Canada)

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe and The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad are among the finalists for the William C. Morris Award.

The American prize recognizes debut YA books.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is about a wisecracking black French Canadian teenager named Norris Kaplan who learns more about love, friendship and growing up when his family moves from Quebec to Texas.

Born in Haiti, raised in Montreal and now based in New York, Philippe was named a black Canadian writer to watch by CBC Books and has an MFA in fiction and screenwriting.

Nafiza Azad's The Candle and the Flame is based on Arabic legends and Islamic mythology. The fantasy novel is about a girl named Fatima who lives in a city along the Silk Road that is caught in the middle of a magical war between tribes. 

Azad was born in Fiji and is now based in B.C. 

The finalists were announced Nov. 4, 2019 by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.

The winner will be announced Jan. 27, 2020 during the library association's annual midwinter meeting.

"A plethora of genres were represented in the submitted titles. The selected finalists will captivate and enthral readers all the way through with a diversity of characters that readers will want to connect with," awards committee chair Terry Young said in a statement.

The other 2019 nominees are American authors: David Yoon for Frankly in Love, Alicia D. William for Genesis Begins Again and Katy Rose Pool for There Will Come a Darkness.

The prize has been given out annually since 2009. No Canadian has ever won.

Last year's winner was Angie Thomas for The Hate U Give.

Past Canadian finalists include S.K. Ali for Saints and Misfits (2018), M-E Girard for Girl Mans Up (2017) and E.K. Johnston for The Story of Owen (2015). 

With files from Associated Press