Books

Thomas King, Zarqa Nawaz among 10 writers longlisted for $25K Leacock Medal for Canadian humour writing

The prize is named in honour of Ontario writer Stephen Leacock, a humorist and popular author in the first half of the 20th century. The shortlist will be announced on Aug. 1, while the winner will be revealed on Sept. 16.
A man with short gray hair and a brown jacket. A woman with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a purple shirt. She is resting her head on her fist.
Thomas King, left, and Zarqa Nawaz are two of the 10 writers longlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC, Peter Scoular)

Thomas King and Zarqa Nawaz are among the 10 authors longlisted for the 2023 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

The $25,000 prize is one of the oldest of its kind, established in 1947 to support the growth of Canadian humour writing.

Book cover of orange and yellow mountain overlooking water. white text overlaid.

King is nominated for his latest DreadfulWater mystery, Deep House.

The series follow Thumps DreadfulWater, a Cherokee ex-cop trying to make a living as a photographer in a small town in the northwestern U.S., and feature King's characteristic dry humour amid many narrative twists and turns.

In Deep House, Thumps DreadfulWater has finally found some peace in small-town Chinook. Although his beloved cat is still missing and his relationship with Claire is uncertain, Thumps can at least relax in the comfort of his home. But when he unintentionally discovers a body at the bottom of a canyon, the reluctant investigator becomes entangled in yet another inexplicable mystery and begins to question who he can really trust. 

LISTEN | Thomas King on writing the DreadfulWater series:
Featured VideoThomas King talks to Shelagh Rogers about Deep House, the latest installment of his Dreadful Water mystery series.

King previously won the Leacock Medal in 2021 for his novel Indians on Vacation.

A brightly coloured purple book cover featuring a close-up of a woman's face. She is wearing a hijab and sunglasses.

Nawaz is nominated for her debut novel Jameela Green Ruins Everything.

The book follows Jameela, a disillusioned American Muslim woman who becomes embroiled in a plot to infiltrate an international terrorist organization — and in the process, reconnects with her loved ones and her faith.

Nawaz is a writer and the creator behind the CBC television show Little Mosque on the Prairie. She is also the author of the memoir Laughing all the Way to the Mosque. Her web series Zarqa can currently be streamed on CBC Gem.

The full longlist is:

The shortlist will be announced on Aug. 1, while the winner will be revealed on Sept. 16.

The prize is named in honour of Ontario writer Stephen Leacock, a humorist and popular author in the first half of the 20th century. His books included Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town published in 1912 and Literary Lapses published in 1910.

The prize has been funded by the Dunkley Charitable Foundation since the fall of 2020. The organization is based in  Orillia, Ont., the town that inspired the fictional community of Mariposa in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Leacock had a summer estate there.

Last year's winner was comedian and past CBC host Rick Mercer for his memoir Talking to Canadians.

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

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