Books

Thomas King & Gil Adamson among finalists for $50K Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

The other three finalists are Zsuzsi Gartner for her novel The Beguiling, Michelle Good for Five Little Indians and Maria Reva for her short story collection Good Citizens Need Not Fear.
Thomas King (left) and Gil Adamson are two of the five writers nominated for the $50,000 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. (Helen Hoy, Submitted by the Writers' Trust of Canada)

Thomas King and Gil Adamson are two of the five writers nominated for the 2020 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.

The $50,000 prize annually recognizes the best in Canadian fiction.

King is nominated for his novel Indians on Vacation. Adamson is being recognized for her novel Ridgerunner.

The other three finalists are Zsuzsi Gartner for her novel The Beguiling, Michelle Good for Five Little Indians and Maria Reva for her short story collection Good Citizens Need Not Fear.

The shortlist was selected from 123 submitted titles by a jury comprised of former CBC journalist and novelist Waubgeshig Rice and writers Elisabeth de Mariaffi and Yasuko Thanh.

The winner will be announced on Nov. 18, 2020. The remaining four finalists will each receive $5,000.

Last year's winner was André Alexis for his novel Days by Moonlight.

Other past winners include David Chariandy for Brother and Miriam Toews for All My Puny Sorrows.

The prize is coordinated by the Writers' Trust of Canada, an organization that supports Canadian writers through literary awards, fellowships, financial grants, mentorships and more.

It also gives out seven prizes in recognition of the year's best in fiction, nonfiction and short story, as well as mid-career and lifetime achievement awards. The shortlist for the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction was announced on Sept. 30.

The Writers' Trust of Canada was founded in 1976 by Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Graeme Gibson, Margaret Laurence and David Young.

Get to know the five finalists for the 2020 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize below.

Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson

Ridgerunner is a novel by Canadian author Gil Adamson. (Jean-Luc Bertini, House of Anansi)

Ridgerunner is a novel about William Moreland, the notorious thief known as Ridgerunner, as he moves through the Rocky Mountains, determined to secure financial stability for his son. His son, Jack Boulton, is trapped in a life not of his own making. Semi-orphaned and under the care of a nun, Sister Beatrice, Jack has found himself in a secluded cabin in Banff, Alberta. Little does he know, his father is coming for him. 

Ridgerunner is also on the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist.

Gil Adamson is a writer and poet. Her first novel, The Outlander, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and was a Canada Reads finalist in 2009, when it was championed by Nicholas Campbell. She has published several volumes of poetry, including Primitive and Ashland

The Amazon first novel award, a Canada Reads finalist, a Globe & Mail book of the year... that's just a fraction of the praise heaped upon Gil Adamson's debut novel The Outlander. Great news for fans of that backwoods adventure thriller, the long-awaited follow-up has arrived. Ridgerunner has just been published by House of Anansi press and Gil Adamson joined our Gill Deacon for Here and Now's Tuesday afternoon book club. 6:49

The Beguiling by Zsuzsi Gartner

The Beguiling is a novel by Zsuzsi Gartner. (Hamish Hamilton, Imogen Broberg-Hull)

In The Beguiling, a young woman named Lucy had dreamed of being a saint as a child. This dream may actually come true after the death of her cousin Zoltan, and Lucy becomes someone people come to in order to confess their sins. But when the confessions seem connected, Zoltan's death doesn't seem so random anymore. Lucy must then confront her own lapses as a Catholic and a human being, and figure out what is happening, before it's too late.

Zsuzsi Gartner is a writer and journalist who currently lives in Vancouver. Her short story collection Better Living Through Plastic Explosives was a finalist for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She was a panellist on Canada Reads 2004, when she defended Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler.

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

Michelle Good is a writer of Cree ancestry and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. (Kent Wong, Harper Perennial)

In Five Little Indians, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie were taken from their families and sent to a residential school when they were very small. Barely out of childhood, they are released and left to contend with the seedy world of eastside Vancouver. Fuelled by the trauma of their childhood, the five friends cross paths over the decades and struggle with the weight of their shared past. 

Five Little Indians was on the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

Good is a Cree writer and lawyer, as well as a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Five Little Indians is her first book. CBC Books named Good a writer to watch in 2020.

Today we are remembering and honouring those who were forced to attend residential schools. Those who managed to leave carried the weight of how they were treated with them and it affected every aspect of their lives. Host Leisha Grebinski speaks to Michelle Good, the author of Five Little Indians, a book nominated for the Giller prize, about why it's important to reflect on life after residential school. 8:38

Indians on Vacation by Thomas King

Indians on Vacation is a novel by Thomas King. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic, HarperCollins Publishers)

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.

Indians on Vacation was on the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

King is a Canadian-American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. His books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient IndianGreen Grass, Running Water and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series.

Thomas King talks about the autobiographical inspiration by his novel Indians on Vacation, which is longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize. 16:47

Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva

Good Citizens Need Not Fear is a book by Maria Reva. (Knopf Canada)

Good Citizens Need Not Fear is a short story collection that revolves around a cast of characters connected to a rundown apartment building in a small, industrial Ukrainian town just before, during and after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

Maria Reva is a writer from Vancouver who now lives in Texas. She won the 2018 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for emerging writers for The Ermine Coat. The Ermine Coat appears in Good Citizens Need Not Fear. Good Citizens Need Not Fear is Reva's first book.

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