Joseph Kertes, Thomas King and Morgan Murray named finalists for $15K Leacock Medal for Humour

The prize is awarded to the most humorous Canadian book of the year. The winner will be announced on June 4, 2021.

The prize is awarded to the most humorous Canadian book of the year

Joseph Kertes (left) Thomas King (centre) and Morgan Murray are the three writers shortlisted for the 2021 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. (Submitted by Stephen Leacock Associates)

Canada's award for literary humour, the Stephen Leacock Medal, has announced its 2021 shortlist. 

The medal will be awarded to one of the three finalists — Joseph Kertes, Thomas King and Morgan Murray. The winner will receive a $15,000 prize.

The three-book shortlist was chosen from a 10-title longlist that was announced in April 2021.

Kertes is nominated for his novel Last Impressions.

Set in both mid-20th century Hungary and modern-day Toronto, Last Impressions centres around the dying Zoltan Beck. The story explores lost love, a father-son relationship and bridging a widening gap as time is running out.

Fleeing Hungary with his family after the 1956 revolution, the Toronto writer dedicates the novel to his father and his own immigrant experience.

Kertes previously won the Leacock Medal for his first novel, Winter Tulips, in 1989.

King is in the running for Indians on Vacation. The novel is also currently on the shortlist for the 2020 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. It was also longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Indians on Vacation is about a couple named Bird and Mimi, who decide to travel through Europe after discovering postcards from Mimi's long-lost Uncle Leroy, who sent them while on his own European adventure almost 100 years ago.

King told CBC Books in a previous interview that Indians on Vacation is inspired by his travelling experiences with his partner. He wanted to use the idea of travel as a gateway to discussing more serious issues.

King is a Canadian American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry who is regarded as one of the most influential Indigenous writers and scholars of his generation. His books include The Inconvenient Indian, Green Grass, Running Water and The Back of the Turtle

Rounding out the shortlist is Murray's novel Dirty Birds

Dirty Birds follows the journey of Milton Ontario as he leaves behind his parent's basement in Saskatchewan and chases after fame, fortune, and love in Montreal. 

Dirty Birds is Murray's debut novel. The Alberta native grew up on a farm and now lives in Cape Breton. Dirty Birds was on the Canada Reads 2021 longlist

The winner will be announced on June 4, 2021.

There is usually a celebration in Orillia to honour the winner and finalists, but it is cancelled for the second year in a row.

The 2019 and 2020 finalists will be invited to the 2022 gala, which will celebrate the finalists from 2019, 2020 and 2021.

2022 will mark the prize's 75th anniversary. The award has been given out regularly since 1947. 

Last year's winner was Heidi L.M. Jacobs for her novel Molly at the Mall.

Other past winners include Robertson Davies, Pierre Berton, Farley Mowat, Paul Quarrington, Mordecai Richler, Stuart McLean, Terry Fallis, Susan Juby and Cassie Stocks.

In October 2020, the prize announced that Dunkley Charitable Foundation would be coming on as its new sponsor.

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