Mona Awad Wins $40,000 at the 40th anniversary of the First Novel Award presented by and The Walrus


Author of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl received this year's award from a shortlist of six first-time novelists

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SEATTLE, May 26, 2016 /CNW/ - and the Walrus Foundation presented Mona Awad as the winner of the 40th anniversary of the First Novel Award, which celebrates the remarkable achievement of a first-time Canadian novelist. Awad's novel 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (Penguin Canada) earned her the title of the 2016 First Novel Award winner and $40,000 at this year's award ceremony, held at The Four Seasons in Toronto and hosted by CBC's The Next Chapter radio host, Shelagh Rogers.

"As we celebrate 40 years, we've enjoyed looking back at the rich history of the First Novel Award. Over the years, the prize has received entries that truly illustrate incredible talent and creativity. We have also watched First Novel Award winners and finalists go on to have wildly successful careers," said Alexandre Gagnon, vice president, Amazon Canada and Amazon Mexico. " has been a part of the First Novel Award for more than a decade and it has been a privilege to be associated with a prize that has such a long and rewarding history. Congratulations to everyone who participated in this special year of the First Novel Award. We look forward to many more years recognizing emerging Canadian authors."

About the 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl:

Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she's the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she's afraid to send pictures: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose weight. She counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl?

In her brilliant, hilarious, and at times shocking debut, Mona Awad skewers our body image—obsessed culture, and at the same time delivers a tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult young woman whose life is hijacked by her struggle to conform. As caustically funny as it is heartbreaking, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl introduces a vital new voice in fiction.

Mona Awad was born in Montreal and received her MFA in fiction from Brown University. Her work has appeared in McSweeney'sThe WalrusJoylandPost RoadSt. Petersburg Review, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing and English literature at the University of Denver.

In addition to Awad, the 2016 First Novel Award finalists include: The Afterlife of Birds by Elizabeth Philips (Freehand Books), Seep by Mark Giles (Anvil Press), Backspring by Judith McCormack (Biblioasis), Do You Think This is Strange? by Aaron Cully Drake (Touchwood Editions), and Book of Sands by Karim Alrawi (HarperCollins) all of whom earned $4,000.

Russell Brown, head judge and Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Toronto selected this year's shortlist. He has also served as a co-editor of Descant magazine and as editorial director at Canadian publisher McClelland and Stewart. The winner was selected from the list of finalists by a panel of judges including award-winning author Gurjinder Basran and Walrus fiction editor and University of Toronto professor Nick Mount.  

Over the last four decades, the First Novel Award has recognized outstanding literary achievements by first-time Canadian authors and has launched the careers of some of Canada's most beloved novelists, including most recently Alix Hawley for All True Not a Lie In It, Wayne Grady for Emancipation Day, Anakana Schofield for Malarky, David Bezmozgis for The Free World and Eleanor Catton for The Rehearsal.

40th Anniversary First Novel Award: Past Winner Testimonials:

"It took me seven years to write The Free World. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Getting the First Novel Award was a high point in the novel's publication and in my career as a novelist."— David Bezmozgis, 2011 First Novel Award Winner

"The encouragement of the First Novel Award is invaluable and comes at a time when a writer needs it most."—Anne Michaels, 1996 First Novel Award Winner

"Winning the award made me feel, probably for the first time, that it was acceptable for me to use the job title "writer." It helped All True Not a Lie In It find an audience, and it helped me want to keep writing (the sequel is underway). I'm so grateful."—Alix Hawley, 2015 First Novel Award Winner

For more information about the First Novel Award, visit or

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the prize, is offering a 40% discount on all of the shortlisted novels for this year's First Novel Award, for a limited time, in addition to everyday savings of up to 40% off the 100 bestselling titles.

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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 ten times a year, in print, tablet, and smart phone editions; curating the Walrus Talks, leadership dinners, speakers' series, and other events across the country; posting original, high-quality content at; and through such digital projects as Walrus Ebooks. The foundation also partners with Blue Ant Media to produce documentaries and other programming at; and trains young professionals in media, publishing, and non-profit development.


Image with caption: "13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad, the 2016 Winner of the First Novel Award (CNW Group/". Image available at:

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Image with caption: "13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad, the 2016 Winner of the First Novel Award (CNW Group/". Image available at:

Image with caption: "Mona Awad, Winner of the 2016 First Novel Award (CNW Group/". Image available at:

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