First Novel Award

The First Novel Award, formerly the Books in Canada First Novel Award, is a Canadian literary award, co-presented by and The Walrus to the best first novel in English published the previous year by a citizen or resident of Canada.[1] It has been awarded since 1976.[1]

The First Novel Award was founded by the literary magazine Books in Canada.[1] Between 1976 and 1994, the award was sponsored by SmithBooks. During this period, the award was known as the SmithBooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award.[1] When SmithBooks was acquired by Chapters, it became the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award.[1]

The award was reorganized when Books in Canada was acquired by Adrian and Olga Stein in 1995. The Steins retained a first novel editor, introduced a comprehensive first novel review program, and formalized the adjudication process.

The award was taken over by in 2009 and its name was changed to the current incarnation. The arrangement saw the prize award initially doubled to $10,000, and then increased to its current amount of $40,000, with shortlisted finalists each receiving over $6,000.

Winners and nomineesEdit

At different times in its history, the award has been presented early in the year for works published in the preceding year, late in the year for works published in the same year as the presentation, or mid-year for an eligibility period that straddled parts of both years. For clarity, the list below is organized by the year of presentation rather than the year of publication eligibility.

Year Winner Nominated
1977   Ian McLachlan, The Seventh Hexagram[2]
  Michael Ondaatje, Coming Through Slaughter[2]
1978   Oonah McFee, Sandbars[3]
1979   Joan Barfoot, Abra[1]
1980   Clark Blaise, Lunar Attractions[4]
1981   W.D. Valgardson, Gentle Sinners[4]
1982   Joy Kogawa, Obasan[1]
1983   W.P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe[5]
1984   Heather Robertson, Willie: A Romance[4]
1985   Geoffrey Ursell, Perdue, or How the West Was Lost[6]
1986   Wayne Johnston, The Story of Bobby O'Malley[7]
1987   Karen Lawrence, The Life of Helen Alone[8]
1988   Marion Quednau, The Butterfly Chair[9]
1989   Rick Salutin, A Man of Little Faith[10]
1990   Sandra Birdsell, The Missing Child[11]
1991   Nino Ricci, Lives of the Saints[12]
1992   Rohinton Mistry, Such a Long Journey[13]
1993   John Steffler, The Afterlife of George Cartwright[14]
1994   Deborah Joy Corey, Losing Eddie[15]
1995   Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy[16]
1996   Keath Fraser, Popular Anatomy[17]
1997   Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces[18]
1998   Margaret Gibson, Opium Dreams[19]
1999   André Alexis, Childhood[20]
2000   David Macfarlane, Summer Gone[21]
  Alan R. Wilson, Before the Flood[21]
2001   Eva Stachniak, Necessary Lies[22]
2002   Michael Redhill, Martin Sloane[23]
2003   Mary Lawson, Crow Lake[24]
2004   Michel Basilières, Black Bird[25]
2005   Colin McAdam, Some Great Thing[26]
2006   Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road[27]
2007   Madeleine Thien, Certainty[28]
2008   Gil Adamson, The Outlander[29]
2009   Joan Thomas, Reading by Lightning[30]
2010   Jessica Grant, Come, Thou Tortoise[31]
2011   Eleanor Catton, The Rehearsal[1]
2012   David Bezmozgis, The Free World[32]
2013   Anakana Schofield, Malarky[1]
2014   Wayne Grady, Emancipation Day[33]
2015   Alix Hawley, All True Not a Lie in It[34]
2016   Mona Awad, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl[35]
2017   Katherena Vermette, The Break[36]
2018   Michael Kaan, The Water Beetles[37]
2019   Casey Plett, Little Fish[38]
2020   Stéphane Larue, The Dishwasher[39]
2021   Michelle Good, Five Little Indians[40]
2022   Pik-Shuen Fung, Ghost Forest[41]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "First Novel Award helps write authors' careers: All awards are crapshoots, but for a prize that recognizes writers with little or no track record, a surprising number become successful". The Globe and Mail, May 21, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "New corporate outlook on helping writers: more cash, fewer strings". The Globe and Mail, June 7, 1977.
  3. ^ "And the winner is..." The Globe and Mail, April 1, 1978.
  4. ^ a b c "First-novel-award prize is increased to $5,000". The Globe and Mail, January 20, 1988.
  5. ^ "The timeless metaphors of baseball". The Globe and Mail, November 17, 1984.
  6. ^ "Writer from Regina wins book award". The Globe and Mail, March 29, 1985.
  7. ^ "Lives in isolation". The Globe and Mail, January 9, 1988.
  8. ^ "Lawrence captures $3,000 literary prize". The Globe and Mail, April 3, 1987.
  9. ^ "BC woman (Quednau) wins first-novel award". Winnipeg Free Press, April 3, 1998.
  10. ^ "Salutin wins $5,000 prize". Toronto Star, March 30, 1989.
  11. ^ "Winnipeg author wins first-novel prize". Ottawa Citizen, March 30, 1990.
  12. ^ "Ricci novel wins second big prize". Calgary Herald, March 26, 1991.
  13. ^ "Mistry novel earns Smith award". Halifax Daily News, March 27, 1992.
  14. ^ "Story from 'fascinating' journal wins Steffler first novel award". Halifax Daily News, March 27, 1993.
  15. ^ "New Brunswicker wins book award". Calgary Herald, March 25, 1994.
  16. ^ "Funny Boy author wins $5,000 SmithBooks prize". Toronto Star, March 22, 1995.
  17. ^ "Fraser wins First Novel prize". Toronto Star, April 26, 1996.
  18. ^ "Anne Michaels wins $5,000 first novel prize". Edmonton Journal, May 29, 1997.
  19. ^ "Opium Dreams wins award". Ottawa Citizen, April 25, 1998.
  20. ^ "Andre Alexis wins first novel award". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, April 30, 1999.
  21. ^ a b "Macfarlane, Wilson share award for first novel". The Globe and Mail, October 13, 2000.
  22. ^ "Necessary Lies wins first-novel award". The Globe and Mail, September 26, 2001.
  23. ^ "Michael Redhill picks up first-novel honours". Edmonton Journal, October 2, 2002.
  24. ^ "Mary Lawson wins first novel award for Crow Lake". National Post, October 9, 2003.
  25. ^ "Basilieres wins first novel award". The Telegram, October 17, 2004.
  26. ^ "Montreal's Colin McAdam wins First Novel Award". The Globe and Mail, October 7, 2005.
  27. ^ "Joseph Boyden wins Amazon first-novel award". The Globe and Mail, October 12, 2006.
  28. ^ "Quebec City's Thien wins First Novel Award". Montreal Gazette, October 9, 2007.
  29. ^ "Adamson wins First Novel Award". Telegraph-Journal, October 2, 2008.
  30. ^ "Thomas wins Amazon First Novel Award". The Globe and Mail, September 25, 2009.
  31. ^ "Jessica Grant takes first-novel honour". The Globe and Mail, May 1, 2010.
  32. ^ "Toronto writer wins first-novel prize". Victoria Times-Colonist, April 29, 2012.
  33. ^ "Seasoned author's debut novel a winner". Winnipeg Free Press, May 10, 2014.
  34. ^ "Alix Hawley's All True Not A Lie In It wins First Novel Award". The Globe and Mail. May 21, 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  35. ^ "Mona Awad wins First Novel Award". CBC Books, May 26, 2016.
  36. ^ "Katherena Vermette wins First Novel Award". The Globe and Mail May 25, 2017.
  37. ^ "Michael Kaan wins Amazon Canada First Novel Award for The Water Beetles". The Globe and Mail, May 22, 2018.
  38. ^ "Casey Plett wins $60,000 Amazon first novel prize". Toronto Star, May 22, 2019.
  39. ^ "Stéphane Larue wins $60K Amazon First Novel Award for The Dishwasher". CBC Books, June 25, 2020.
  40. ^ Vicky Qiao, "Five Little Indians by Michelle Good wins $60K Amazon First Novel Award". CBC Books, May 28, 2021.
  41. ^ "Pik-Shuen Fung’s ‘Ghost Forest’ wins Amazon Canada First Novel Award". Toronto Star, June 1, 2022.
  42. ^ a b c d e "Retired bricklayer among six debut novelists vying for $60,000 prize". The Globe and Mail, May 10, 2022.

External linksEdit