and the Walrus Foundation Unveil Shortlist for the 41st Annual First Novel Award

The five finalists were selected by Tanis MacDonald—head judge, author, and finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism; the winner will be announced on May 25 at a gala hosted by Shelagh Rogers

The winner will be chosen by a panel composed of MacDonald; Casey Plett, winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction; and Gurjinder Basran, winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize

SEATTLE, April 14, 2017 /CNW/ - and the Walrus Foundation today announced the nominees for the 41st annual First Novel Award (, which celebrates the remarkable achievements of first-time Canadian novelists. This year's finalists will each receive over $6,000 in cash and prizes, and the winner will receive additional prizes totaling over $40,000.

Head judge, Tanis MacDonald, selected all five of the finalists. The author of three books of poetry, Tanis was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism in 2013 for her study of elegies, The Daughter's Way. She is an associate professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, where she teaches Canadian literature and creative writing. Additionally, she has served on the juries for the Edna Staebler Award in Creative Non-Fiction and the Edna Staebler Laurier Writer-in-Residence program.

The finalists for the 2017 First Novel Award, listed alphabetically by each author's last name, are:

  • White Elephant, Catherine Cooper (Freehand Books)
  • Accordéon, Kaie Kellough (ARP Books)
  • So Much Love, Rebecca Rosenblum (McClelland & Stewart)
  • Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, Yasuko Thanh (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
  • The Break, Katherena Vermette (House of Anansi)


"It was a distinct pleasure to be introduced to the dozens of great books that were entered into this year's competition," says head judge, Tanis MacDonald. "The writing and publishing of a first novel is a huge accomplishment in itself. If I had it my way, the shortlist would not have been short at all.  While all five books show a great range of styles, perspectives, and subject matters, they have in common a remarkable reach. Each book stretches towards the telling of big story – sometimes via intimate connections – in which people puzzle over history as it has happened (or is happening) to them and how they will live in the face of change. I feel very lucky to have read these books early on in their predictably long shelf lives. I encourage everyone to read them all."

The winner—selected by a panel composed of Tanis MacDonald, Casey Plett, and Gurjinder Basran—will be announced at the annual First Novel Award ceremony, which will be held on May 25, 2017, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.

"Over the past 41 years, the First Novel Award has attracted the leading talent in new Canadian literature, and this year is no exception," said Alexandre Gagnon, Vice President of "The First Novel Award represents the future of Canadian novelists by recognizing up-and-coming talent and supporting their careers from the very start. I hope our customers dive into each and every one of the novels on the shortlist and are as impressed with them as we are."

Established in 1976, the First Novel Award program has launched the careers of some of Canada's most beloved novelists. Previous winners include Michael Ondaatje (1976), Joan Barfoot (1978), Joy Kogawa (1981), W.P. Kinsella (1982), Nino Ricci (1990), Rohinton Mistry (1991), Shyam Selvadurai (1994), Anne Michaels (1996), Margaret Gibson (1997), André Alexis (1998), Alan R. Wilson and David Macfarlane (co-winners, 1999), Eva Stachniak (2000), Michael Redhill (2001), Mary Lawson (2002), Michel Basilières (2003), Colin McAdam (2004), Joseph Boyden (2005), Madeleine Thien (2006), Gil Adamson (2007), Joan Thomas (2008), Jessica Grant (2009), Eleanor Catton (2010), David Bezmozgis (2011), Anakana Schofield (2012), and Wayne Grady (2013).

For additional information about the finalists and the First Novel Award, visit or

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About the Walrus Foundation

The Walrus Foundation is a registered charitable non-profit (No. 861851624-RR0001) with an educational mandate to create forums for matters vital to Canadians. The foundation is dedicated to supporting writers, artists, ideas, and thought-provoking conversation. We achieve these goals across multiple platforms, publishing The Walrus magazine—which focuses on Canada and its place in the world—ten times a year in print, tablet, and mobile editions; curating and producing the national series of public Walrus Talks; convening annual sector-based leadership dinners; posting original, high-quality content daily at; and designing such digital projects as Walrus Ebooks and Walrus TV. The foundation also trains young professionals in media, publishing, and non-profit development. 


For further information: For more information, or to book an interview, please contact or (416) 971-5004, ext. 253.

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