Esi Edugyan, Rawi Hage among writers shortlisted for $50K Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

The shortlist also includes Craig Davidson's The Saturday Night Ghost Club, Kathy Page's Dear Evelyn and Jen Neale's Land Mammals and Sea Creatures.
Esi Edguyan is the author of Washington Black and Rawi Hage is the author of Beirut Hellfire Society. (Steven Price/Babak Salari)

Esi Edugyan's Washington Black and Rawi Hage's Beirut Hellfire Society are among the five finalists vying for the 2018 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, an annual $50,000 award recognizing the best in Canadian fiction.

The shortlist also includes Craig Davidson's 1980s haunted tale The Saturday Night Ghost ClubKathy Page's historical novel Dear Evelyn and Jen Neale's debut Land Mammals and Sea Creatures.

The finalists were selected by a jury comprised of writers Ann Y.K. Choi, Mireille Silcoff and Robert Wiersema, who read 128 books to create the shortlist.

The winner will be announced at the Writers' Trust awards gala on Nov. 7, 2018. 

The 2017 winner was David Chariandy for Brother.

Keep reading to learn about each of the finalists.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

Craig Davidson is the author of several books, his most recent being the novel The Saturday Night Ghost Club. (Knopf Canada/Craig Davidson)

The Saturday Night Ghost Club follows a neurosurgeon named Jake Baker, as he reflects on a life-changing childhood summer in 1980s Niagara Falls. Then 12 years old, Jake was convinced by his eccentric Uncle Calvin to investigate the town's macabre urban legends. As the summer unfolds, Jake discovers the painful memories that have shaped Calvin into a paranoid, conspiracy theorist.

Washington Black by Esi Edguyan

Washington Black is a historical novel by Esi Edugyan. (Patrick Crean Editions, Tamara Poppitt)

Esi Edugyan's third novel, Washington Black, follows an 11-year-old boy known as "Wash" who is enslaved on a Barbados sugar plantation. His master is Englishman Christopher Wilde, who is obsessed with developing a machine that can fly. When a man is killed, Wilde must choose between his family and saving Black's life — and the choice results in an epic adventure around the world for Wash. The novel is also currently shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage

Rawi Hage is the author of Beirut Hellfire Society. (Babak Salari/Knopf Canada)

Rawi Hage's novel follows a young man named Pavlov as he takes his deceased father's place in a mysterious group known as the Hellfire Society. Part of their mission is to arrange secret burials for the outcasts of Lebanon — those denied burial because they were gay, atheist or otherwise abandoned. Beirut Hellfire Society is also on the longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures by Jen Neale

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures is a novel by Jen Neale. (Jackie Dives/ECW Press)

In Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, a young woman named Julie Bird returns to her small port town to find that her father Marty, a veteran of the Gulf War, is struggling with PTSD. Auspiciously, a blue whale beaches itself and dies, and is followed by a series of animal deaths that look like suicides. Julie fights to keep her father from following their example, while a blond stranger mysteriously connected to Marty's past suddenly appears in town. This is Jen Neale's first novel.

Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page

Kathy Page's latest book is the novel Dear Evelyn. (Biblioasis, Billie Woods)

Kathy Page's Dear Evelyn tells the story of Harry, a poetry lover, and Evelyn, the ambitious daughter of an alcoholic, and their 70-year long marriage. Their romance is a whirlwind as Harry meets, falls in love and marries Evelyn just before departing to serve as a soldier for England in the Second World War. Over the course of their long marriage in London, Harry and Evelyn's relationship deteriorates until it is seemingly beyond repair.