Western Canadian writers capture Commonwealth book awards

Two Canadian authors, Marina Endicott from Alberta and Joan Thomas from Manitoba, have captured awards with the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

Two Canadian authors, Marina Endicott and Joan Thomas, have won awards with the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

Endicott won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book Award, for Canada and the Caribbean, for her novel Good to a Fault.

The novel, published by Freehand Books last fall, recounts the chaotic journey a lonely woman and her family take after a car accident.

"With delicate precision, Good to a Fault  tackles some of the big, eternal questions — love, mortality, God — in a deceptively modest story populated with very ordinary people brought together in extraordinary circumstances," said  Michael Bucknor, chair of the judging panel for the Canada and Caribbean region, in a statement.

"Endicott's wry, understated prose turns a few surprising months in [the main character's] life into a gripping moral quest, searching to discover what it means to live a truly good life."

Endicott, who was born in Golden, B.C., and is now a creative writing teacher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said she was "honoured" by the award.

"I am happy to be a citizen of the Commonwealth, an international partnership that can connect Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to Kingston, Jamaica — and Auckland and Mumbai and Cape Town. One wealth we now hold in common is our shared delight in reading and writing in English," said Endicott in a statement on Wednesday.

Good to a Fault was also nominated for a Giller Prize.

Manitoba's Joan Thomas was also triumphant. Thomas's Reading by Lightning, published by Goose Lane Editions, earned best first book accolades.

Both Endicott and Thomas will be awarded £1,000 ($1,800).

Endicott moves on to the final round and competes against three other regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize winners for the £10,000 overall Commonwealth Best Book Award.

That prize will be announced at a special ceremony as part of the 2009 Auckland Writers' and Readers Festival in New Zealand on May 16.

Last year's winner was The Book of Negroes by Burlington, Ont.-based Lawrence Hill, whose book was also victorious on CBC Radio's Canada Reads show last week.

The Commonwealth Writers' Prize is supported by the Commonwealth Foundation, which funds programs in  democracy, development and cultural understanding in the 53 Commonwealth countries.