Books

Samra Habib, Ann Hui and John Zada shortlisted for 2020 Edna Staebler Award following pandemic postponement 

Canada Reads 2020 winner We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib is on the shortlist. Honouring the best in Canadian creative nonfiction, the presentation of the 2020 and 2021 awards were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Canada Reads 2020 winner We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib is on the shortlist

The shortlisted authors for the 2020 Edna Staebler Award: Samra Habib, left, Ann Hui and John Zada. (Samra Habib Twitter/Amanda Palmer/Grove Atlantic)

Samra Habib, Ann Hui and John Zada have made the three-book shortlist for the 2020 Edna Staebler Award. 

The annual $10,000 prize administered by Wilfrid Laurier University honours the best in Canadian creative nonfiction. The presentation of the 2020 and 2021 awards were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Habib was shortlisted for We Have Always Been Here.

The memoir, Habib's first book, chronicles Habib's early childhood in Pakistan, their experience with religious persecution, arrival to Canada as a refugee and the journey of coming out as a queer Muslim.

We Have Always Been Here won Canada Reads 2020, championed by actress Amanda Brugel.

Habib is a Toronto-based journalist and photographer, whose work has been featured in publications like the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post and Vanity Fair. Habib is the creator of the photo documentary project Just Me and Allah, in which they travelled the world to document the diverse stories of LGBTQIA Muslims.

CBC Books named Habib a writer to watch in 2019.

Hui was shortlisted for Chop Suey Nation.

In Chop Suey Nation, Hui drives to small towns across Canada and visits the family-run Chinese restaurants that dot the country, while she discovers her own family's secrets of working in the industry.

Beginning her journey as an authenticity snob, Hui comes to appreciate the determination and enterprise of families across the nation.

Hui is The Globe and Mail's national food reporter, using food as a lens to explore public policy, health, the environment and agriculture.

Zada was shortlisted for In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond.

Set in B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest, In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond explores the mystery of the existence of the Sasquatch as Zada looks for concrete evidence with the help of Indigenous guides.

Zada is a Toronto-based writer, photographer and journalist. His work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Explore, CBC, Al Jazeera, BBC and elsewhere. In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond is his first book.

"After two years with the pandemic, it is a pleasure for all of us to be able to celebrate the amazing works of our three finalists for 2020," said Sofie Lachapelle, dean of the faculty of arts at Wilfrid Laurier University.

"The finalists beautifully demonstrate the breadth of work that Canadians are producing in this genre. These are stories that will surprise and delight," added award juror Bruce Gillespie.

The winner of the 2020 award will be announced in August.

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