David Bergen and Rowan McCandless among this year's Manitoba Book Award winners

The annual provincial awards recognize the best in writing, book design, publishing and illustration.
Canadian authors David Bergen, left, and Rowan McCandless are among the winners for the 2022 Manitoba Book Awards. (Thies Bogner, Tessa Vallittu)

David Bergen and Rowan McCandless are among the winners of the 2022 Manitoba Book Awards, 11 separate awards that recognize the best in Manitoba writing, book design, publishing and illustration.

Bergen's novel Out of Mind won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award.

In Out of MindDavid Bergen delves into the psyche of Lucille Black, mother, grandmother, lover, psychiatrist, and analyst of self, who first appeared in Bergen's bestselling novel The Matter with Morris.

Bergen has written 10 novels and two collections of short stories. The Winnipeg author won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel The Time in Between in 2005. He was also a finalist in 2002 for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction for the book The Case of Lena S. His novel The Age of Hope was defended by Ron MacLean on Canada Reads in 2013. 

McCandless's nonfiction book Persephone's Children is a co-winner of the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book. She shares the award win with the book We Are All Perfectly Fine by Winnipeg physician and writer Jillian Horton.

Persephone's Children chronicles Rowan McCandless's odyssey as a Black biracial woman escaping the stranglehold of a long-term abusive relationship. Through a series of thematically linked and structurally inventive essays, including a contract, a crossword puzzle, and a metafictional TV script, McCandless explores the fraught and fragmented relationship between memory and trauma.

Rowan McCandless is a writer from Winnipeg. She has won the Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize and has been longlisted for the Writers' Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Also among the winners is the bestselling picture book I Sang You Down from the Stars by Manitoba author and educator Tasha Spillett-Sumner, which won the McNally Robinson Book for Young People award.

I Sang You Down from the Stars is a story of birth and creation for younger readers. Using poetic language and  watercolours, the picture book uses Indigenous creation stories and traditional teachings to celebrate nature and the bond behind mother and child.

You can see the full list of winners below.

  • Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction: Dadibaajim by Helen Olsen Agger 
  • Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book: (co-winners) Persephone's Children: A Life in Fragments by Rowan McCandlessWe Are All Perfectly Fine by Jillian Horton
  • Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award: Mont Blanc-Winnipeg Express by Seream
  • John Hirsch Emerging Manitoba Writer Award: Chimwemwe Undi
  • Lansdowne Prize for Poetry: The Lost Cafeteria by Joel Robert Ferguson
  • Manuela Dias Book Design Award: Warehouse Journal Volume Thirty edited by Chelsea Colburn & Teresa Lyons, design by Chelsea Colburn & Teresa Lyons
  • Manuela Dias Book Design Award Illustration Award: You Came From My Heart by Brenlee Coates, illustrations & design by Roberta Landreth
  • Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction: (co-winners) Hour of the Crab by Patricia Robertson; Prodigies by Bob Armstrong
  • Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher: ​​Did You See Us? Reunion, Remembrance, and Reclamation at an Urban Indian Residential School by Survivors of the Assiniboia Indian Residential School, preface by Theodore Fontaine, edited by Andrew Woolford, design by Vincent Design, published by University of Manitoba Press 
  • Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction: So Many Windings by Catherine Macdonald
  • McNally Robinson Book for Young PeopleI Sang You Down from the Stars by Tasha Spillett-Sumner
  • ​​​​​McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award: Out of Mind by David Bergen


  • This post has been updated to reflect that the co-winners for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction include Hour of the Crab by Patricia Robertson and Prodigies by Bob Armstrong.
    Jun 13, 2022 12:27 PM ET

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