Honey by Brenda Brooks shortlisted for book prize for thrillers that don't feature violence against women

The Staunch Book Prize is awarded to a thriller in which "no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered."
Honey is a thriller novel by Brenda Brooks. (ECW Press, Staunch Book Prize)

Honey by B.C. author Brenda Brooks is among five novels on an international shortlist for the 2019 Staunch Book Prize.

The prize, now in its second year, highlights thriller novels in which "no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered."

Brooks's novel follows 24-year-old Nicole Hewett who lives in a small northern town. When her childhood friend Honey comes back home after six years, Nicole is brought into a world of secrets and lies.

"This novel is a great seduction, with all the thrills, treachery and heartache that can bring," said the prize in a press release.

"Great plot. Sharp dialogue. Brilliant writing. You'll want to read more of Brenda Brooks."

Brooks was born in Manitoba and now lives on Salt Spring Island in B.C. Her previous novel, Gotta Find Me an Angel, was shortlisted for the 2005 First Novel Award.

The other 2019 Staunch Book Prize finalists are:

  • Only to Sleep by British novelist Lawrence Osborne
  • The Western Wind by British novelist Samantha Harvey
  • The Godmother by French novelist Hannelore Cayre
  • Liar's Candle by American novelist August Thomas

The winner will receive £1,000 ($1,678.60 Cdn) and will be announced on Nov. 25, 2019, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. 

The Staunch Book Prize was founded by writer Bridget Lawless in the wake of the #MeToo and TimesUp movements. She told CBC's As It Happens that she was tired of reading about violence against women in thriller novels.

"I think there are several problems. One is that it's incredibly repetitive and that doesn't encourage original writing. But the constant depiction of women as victims, and of quite gratuitous sexual description, I think doesn't help anything about how women are treated or seen or how they feel about themselves in the wider world," she said in 2018.

Staunch Book Prize founder Bridget Lawless is bringing attention to the all too common trope in thriller novels of violence against women. 6:31

The prize drew criticism from crime writers who argued that the award ignores gender violence and encourages silence around the issue rather than conversation.

The inaugural award was given to Australian Jock Serong for On the Java Ridge in November of 2018.


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