Three B.C.-related authors named as 2020 Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize finalists

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      Five fiction writers have been named as contenders for a national fiction award—and three of them have B.C. connections.

      The Writers’ Trust of Canada revealed the five finalists for the 2020 Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize today (October 7).

      This year’s finalists include four novels and one short story collection, as well as emerging and established authors, who each receive $5,000 and will vie for the $50,000 top spot. 

      The jury—consisting of writers Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Waubgeshig Rice, and Yasuko Thanh—selected the finalists from 123 titles submitted by 61 publishers.

      Two writers are from B.C., and a third was raised in Vancouver.

      Vancouver author Zsuzsi Gartner, who has written two short story collections and a Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist, was chosen for her debut novel. Jurors described The Beguiling (Hamish Hamilton Canada), about a woman who attracts people to share confessions with her, as “an exquisitely crafted, profoundly readable novel about the human compulsion to seek absolution in strangers”.

      Michelle Good of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation (in Saskatchewan), who lives in Southern B.C., was named for Five Little Indians (Harper Perennial). Her novel follows five residential-school survivors and their efforts to deal with the trauma from their experiences. Good previously won the HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction in 2018, and her novel also made the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

      Maria Reva, who was raised in Vancouver and now lives in Austin, Texas, was selected for her debut short story collection Good Citizens Need Not Fear (Knopf Canada), which follow various characters in the years leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union. Reva’s story “The Ermine Coat” won the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers in 2018, which appears in this collection of interconnected tales.

      Toronto-based Gil Adamson’s Ridgerunner (House of Anansi Press)—the sequel to her debut novel The Outlander (which won the Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing and the First Novel Award)—made the list for being “an adventure as sprawling and impeccably rendered as the land itself”. Set in the Canadian Rockies in 1917, this novel follows a thief’s attempt to steal money for his 12-year-old son’s future.

      Thomas King of Guelph, Ontario, was included for Indians on Vacation (HarperCollins), about a couple searching for a long-lost uncle and the family medicine bundle he took. Filmmaker Michelle Latimer adapted King’s book The Inconvenient Indian into a documentary, which recently screened at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival.

      The winner will be declared at a virtual ceremony to be held in Toronto on November 18.

      Past winners of this award include names such as Austin Clarke, Emma Donoghue, Lawrence Hill, Alice Munro, Miriam Toews, and André Alexis, who won the prize for the second time last year.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.