Books

Joan Thomas, Jenny Heijin Wills and Catherine Hunter among finalists for 2020 Manitoba Book Awards

The 11 awards celebrate the best literature from Manitoba. The winners will be announced on May 15, 2020.
Joan Thomas, Jenny Heijun Wills and Catherine Hunter are among the finalists for the 2020 Manitoba Book Awards. (Bruce Thomas Barr. McClelland & Stewart, Signature Editions)

Joan Thomas, Jenny Heijin Wills and Catherine Hunter have been nominated for multiple Manitoba Book Awards.

Thomas is nominated for her novel Five Wives. Five Wives fictionalizes the 1956 story about five evangelical Christian missionaries who were killed when they ventured into the Ecuador rainforest to convert the Waorani, a group of Indigenous people who had no previous contact with the outside world.

Five Wives is a finalist for the Margaret Laurence Award for fiction and for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year.

Five Wives won the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

Wills is nominated for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for nonfiction and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year for her memoir Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.

Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea, but was adopted by a Canadian family and raised in a small town. When she was in her early 20s, she decided to travel back to Korea to meet her extended birth family and other young people who were adopted from Korea and raised abroad. Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. shares Wills's journey and also explores the impact of being raised by a family of a different ethnicity and culture.

Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. also won the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Award for Nonfiction.

Hunter's poetry collection St. Boniface Elegies is nominated for Lansdowne Prize for poetry and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year.

Catherine Hunter wrestles with grief, domestic life and poetry in her fourth collection, St. Boniface Elegies. A strong sense of imagery ties the book together, as Hunter moves through both professional and personal themes.

Also receiving multiple nominations is the Indigenous comics collection, This Place.

This Place is an anthology of comics featuring the work of Indigenous creators as they retell the history of Canada. Elements of fantasy and magical realism are incorporated throughout the book, telling the stories of characters like Jack Fiddler, an Anishinaabe shaman facing murder charges, and Rosie, an Inuk girl growing up during the Second World War. 

This Place is nominated for Mary Scorer Award for best book by a Manitoba publisher and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year.

The shortlists for 11 awards were announced in total. You can see the complete shortlists below.

The winners will be announced on May 15, 2020. The annual gala celebration has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the winners will be announced online.

Margaret Laurence Award for fiction

Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for nonfiction

  • Don Proch: Masking and Mapping by Patricia Bovey
  • Friends, Foes, and Furs: George Nelson's Lake Winnipeg Journals, 1804–1822, edited by Harry W. Duckworth
  • Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. by Jenny Heijun Wills
  • Radical Housewives: Price Wars and Food Politics in Mid-Twentieth-Century Canada by Julie Guard
  • Radical Medicine: The International Origins of Socialized Health Care in Canada by Esyllt W. Jones

Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award 

John Hirsch Award for most promising Manitoba writer

  • Lauren Carter
  • Christopher Ducharme
  • JH Moncrieff

Lansdowne Prize for poetry

Manuela Dias Design and Illustration Award for book design 

  • Carnet brûlé (du monde qui crie) par Marilyne Busque-Dubois, maquette de couverture et mise en page par Urbanink
  • Fanonymous by M.C. Joudrey, illustrations, cover and interior design by M. C. Joudrey and Matthew Stevens
  • Romans/Snowmare by Cam Scott, cover and interior design by LOKI
  • What Fox Knew by Mary Barnes, cover art by M. C. Joudrey, cover and interior design by M. C. Joudrey and Matthew Stevens

Manuela Dias Design and Illustration Award for children's illustration

  • 123 Count with Me: Exploring Nature with Numbers by Jessie Thiessen, illustrations and design by Jessie Thiessen
  • Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt, illustrations and cover design by Amanda Strong, interior design by Relish New Brand Experience
  • The Grizzly Mother (Book Two, Mother of Xsan) by Hetxw'ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson), illustrations and cover art by Natasha Donovan, cover and interior design by Relish New Brand Experience

Manuela Dias Design and Illustration Award for general illustration

  • Don Proch: Masking and Mapping by Patricia Bovey, cover and interior design by Frank Reimer
  • Place into Being by Robert Pasternak, illustrations and cover art by Robert Pasternak, cover and interior design by M. C. Joudrey and Matthew Stevens
  • Portraits of the Far North by Gerald Kuehl, art by Gerald Kuehl, design by Dave Maddocks

Mary Scorer Award for best book by a Manitoba publisher

  • Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity by Darryl Leroux, cover design by David Drummond, interior design by Jess Koroscil
  • Don't Try This at Home: One Family's (mis)Adventures Around the World by Daria Salamon and Rob Krause, cover and interior design by Jamis Paulson
  • Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive, by Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue, cover and interior design by Vincent Design Inc.
  • This Place: 150 Years Retold

McNally Robinson Book of the Year

McNally Robinson Book for Young People

  • 123 Count with Me: Exploring Nature with Numbers, text and illustrations by Jessie Thiessen
  • Dinosaur Rodeo text and illustrations by Sheldon Dawson
  • Entawi Kiskinomakawiyan by Pauline Apetagon
  • The Grizzly Mother (Book Two, Mother of Xsan) by Hetxw'ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson), illustrations and cover art by Natasha Donovan
  • The Promise Basket by Bill Richardson, illustrated by Slavka Kolesar

Michael Van Rooy Award for genre fiction

  • A Land So Wild by Elyssa Warkentin
  • Another Spy for Paris by Robert J. Young
  • Operation Stealth Seed by George Amabile
  • Ride to Daylight by Alyssa Thiessen

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