Announces the 2009 First Novel Award Winner: Jessica
Grant for 'Come, Thou Tortoise'

SEATTLE, April 27 /CNW/ - This evening, presented the 2009 First Novel Award and a cheque for $7,500 (CDN) to Jessica Grant, author of "Come, Thou Tortoise," at a ceremony held at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Grant was selected to receive the award from a group of six finalists, all of whom had their first novels published in 2009.

The First Novel Award recognizes outstanding achievement by first-time Canadian novelists and has served as a springboard for the careers of many of Canada's most renowned authors. This is the 34th year of the award. Joan Thomas won the 2008 award for "Reading by Lightning," preceded by Gil Adamson for "The Outlander" (2007), Madeleine Thien for "Certainty" (2006), Joseph Boyden for "Three Day Road" (2005) and Colin McAdam for "Some Great Thing" (2004). Other previous winners include Michel Basilières, Michael Ondaatje, Rohinton Mistry, Joan Barfoot, Joy Kogawa, Wayne Johnston, Nino Ricci and Anne Michaels.

Jessica Grant is a member of Newfoundland's Burning Rock Collective (members include Michael Winter and Lisa Moore). Her first collection of short stories, "Making Light of Tragedy," includes a story that won both the Western Magazine Award for Fiction and the Journey Prize. She lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. "Come, Thou Tortoise" is published by Knopf Canada and is available at (

Joining Jessica Grant as 2009 First Novel Award finalists were Diana Fitzgerald Bryden for "No Place Strange" (Key Porter Books), Annabel Lyon for "The Golden Mean" (Random House Canada), Damian Tarnopolsky for "Goya's Dog" (Hamish Hamilton Canada), Dragan Todorovic for "Diary of Interrupted Days" (Random House Canada), and Ian Weir for "Daniel O'Thunder" (Douglas & McIntyre). All six finalists were presented with gift certificates in the amount of $750 (CDN) at the event.

"We at continue to be inspired by the many emerging authors who embody Canada's rich and longstanding literary history," said John Nemeth, director of "We would like to thank and congratulate all of the talented novelists who participated in the 2009 First Novel Award process, and we look forward to a bright future and many inspiring titles from all of these very talented authors."

The finalists were selected by Stuart Woods, editor of "Quill & Quire." Before working as a print journalist, Woods worked as an editor at the Montreal publishing house Price-Patterson. He is a graduate of the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Also serving as judges were Joseph Boyden, a prominent Canadian novelist and winner of - among numerous other awards - the 2005 First Novel Award; Priscila Uppal, a Toronto-based poet, novelist, editor and non-fiction writer who is also a professor of English at York University in Toronto and sits on the board of directors at the Toronto Arts Council; and Hal Wake, the artistic director of the Vancouver International Writer's Festival who has hosted or moderated hundreds of literary events at festivals around the world.

"Jessica Grant's 'Come, Thou Tortoise' is a heartfelt tale full to the brim with warm sentiment and the gentle absurdities of contemporary life," said Stuart Woods, head judge and editor of "Quill & Quire." "Told from the alternating perspectives of Audrey (aka Oddly) Flowers, an IQ-challenged St. John's native coming to terms with loss, love and her own limitations, and her remarkably worldly and perspicacious pet tortoise, the novel introduces a memorable, utterly unique character in Canadian fiction, and in its author, a singular talent to watch."

For more information about the First Novel Award, please go to will be accepting submissions for the 2010 First Novel Award until Nov. 1, 2010.

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For further information: For further information: Margaret Antkowski, Mark Van Tol, NATIONAL Public Relations, (416) 586-0180,,

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