Books

Canadians Michael DeForge, Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Hiromi Goto among L.A. Times Book Prize finalists

Seven Canadian books are finalists for the annual prize, which celebrates literary achievement in biography, comics, mystery and other genres.

7 Canadian books are finalists for the 2021 L.A. Times Book Prize

From left: Michael DeForge, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Hiromi Goto are finalists for the L.A. Times Book Prizes. (Drawn & Quarterly, Martin Dee, First Second Press)

Michael DeForge's comic Heaven No Hell, Silvia Moreno-Garcia's thriller Velvet Was the Night and Hiromi Goto's comic Shadow Life are among the finalists for the 2021 L.A. Times Book Prizes.

Now in its 42nd year, the annual prize celebrates literary achievement across 11 categories. There are seven Canadian books in contention.

The graphic novel/comics shortlist is dominated by Canadian creators, making up four out of five books on the list.

DeForge's book, Heaven No Hell, collects short comics that parody technology, true crime and popular culture, featuring an angel's guide to the five tiers of heaven, a couple unwisely following their pregnancy with an app and an undercover substitute teacher investigating murder in the classroom.

Goto's Shadow Life pits a 76-year-old woman, an escapee from long-term care, against death itself. The graphic novel is drawn by American illustrator Ann Xu.

Montreal-based Australian creator Lee Lai is a finalist for her debut Stone Fruit, a comic that follows a queer couple, Bron and Ray. As their relationship falls apart, Bron and Ray turn to repair fractured bonds with family members.

Vancouver translator Janet Hong is on the list with Korean creator Keum Suk Gendry-Kim for their book, The WaitingInspired by true events, The Waiting tells the story of a young Korean family separated by war, and the lengths a mother and daughter go to to reunite their family after 70 years. 

Moreno-Garcia, a novelist based in Vancouver, is a finalist in the mystery/thriller category. Her book, Velvet Was the Night, takes place in 1970s Mexico City, as a secretary undergoes a dangerous search for her missing neighbour, a beautiful art student and radical dissident.

Canadian-born writer Rebecca Donner is shortlisted in the biography category for All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days. She tells the story of her great-great aunt Mildred Harnack-Fish, who gave her life to resist Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Katharine Hayhoe, a Canadian climate scientist, is among the science and technology nominees for Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World. The Texas-based writer argues that facts and figures aren't enough to convince people to save the Earth from climate disaster; we must first connect on shared values.

The L.A. Times Book Prize winners will be revealed on April 22. Each category will be judged by a panel of writers and creators.

In addition, Luis J. Rodriguez will receive the Robert Kirsch Award, a lifetime achievement prize that recognizes his influential work in poetry, essay, memoir and fiction, and Reginald Dwayne Betts will be given the Innovator's Award in honour of his advocacy and writing about the role of literature in prison.

All of the nominees can be found at the L.A. Times Book Prize website.

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