The 13 winners of the 2020 Atlantic Book Awards were announced virtually on June 30, 2020. Winners range from a short story collection, poetry, historical books, fiction, children’s books and memoirs.
Scot’s Bay, Nova Scotia’s Ami McKay was a double winner for Daughter of Family G: A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate, taking home both the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award and the Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction). The book traces McKay’s family history with cancer back to the mid 1800’s, including the true story of her great great aunt Pauline, a story that led to a breakthrough in medical history.
Newfoundland author Gemma Hickey and Breakwater Books took home two awards for Almost Feral, winning Breakwater the APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award and Gemma Hickey the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Non-Fiction). The book traces Hickey’s 908 kilometre trek across Newfoundland in 2015, raising funds for survivors of religious institutional abuse. It also recounts Hickey’s remarkable story of self-discovery, which led to the realization that they are transgender.
One of Canada’s largest book prizes, the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, went to Newfoundland author Michael Crummey for his novel about a brother and sister orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland’s northern coastline, The Innocents (Doubleday Canada). The $25,000 prize is awarded by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, with support from Thomas Head Raddall’s family.
The winners of the 13 awards are:
1. Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction
Nosy White Woman by Martha Wilson
2. Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature
EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street, by Sheree Fitch (Nimbus Publishing)
3. Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, sponsored by Marquis Book Printing
Truth and Conviction: Donald Marshall Jr. and the Mik’kmaw Quest for Justice by L. Jane McMillan (UBC Press)
4. Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s Best Atlantic-Published Book Award, Sponsored by Friesens Corporation
Breakwater Books for Almost Feral by Gemma Hickey
5. Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing
Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers: Canadian Internment Camp B, 1940-1945 by Andrew Theobald (Goose Lane Editions)
6. Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award
Daughter of Family G: A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate
by Ami McKay (Knopf Canada)
7. Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction), presented by BoyneClarke LLP
The Difference by Marina Endicott (Knopf Canada)
8. J.M. Abraham Poetry Award
Belated Bris of the Brainsick by Lucas Crawford (Nightwood Editions)
9. Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration
Sydney Smith for Small in the City, written by Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books)
10. Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Fiction), sponsored by the family of John and Margaret Savage and Royden Trainor
Crow by Amy Spurway (Goose Lane Editions)
11. Margaret and John Savage First Book Award – (Non-Fiction) sponsored by Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, Weed Man Maritimes, Heritage House Law Office, I Love Renovations, and Simply Sage Solutions
Almost Feral by Gemma Hickey (Breakwater Books)
12. The Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction), presented by the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth
Daughter of Family G: A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate by Ami McKay (Knopf Canada)
13. Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
The Innocents by Michael Crummey (Doubleday Canada)
About the Awards:
Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature
The impetus for this $2,000 award came from the late Ann Connor Brimer who was a strong advocate of Canadian children’s literature and saw the need to recognize and encourage children’s writers in Atlantic Canada. It’s presented annually to an Atlantic Canadian writer deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to literature for young people.
Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction
Established in 2015, the prize was created in honor of Alistair MacLeod (1936-2014), Atlantic literary icon and master of the short story. The prize both recognizes the importance of this genre and hopefully encourages the creation of more work in this area.
APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award, sponsored by Friesens Corporation
The Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s award for Best Atlantic-Published Book recognizes publishing companies and their hardworking professionals who bring out new books each season. Each year, the Atlantic Canadian publisher of the printed book that best exemplifies publishing activity in Atlantic Canada receives the award. The Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best Atlantic-Published Book Awards has been generously sponsored for the eleventh year by Friesens Corporation. The prize of $4,000 is shared between the winning publishing firm ($3,000) and the book’s author ($1,000).
Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, sponsored by Marquis Book Printing
Presented for the first time in 2013 by the Atlantic Book Awards Society, this award recognizes literary achievement in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The $1,000 prize is awarded each year to the author(s) of a published book determined to have had (or likely to have) a significant literary, social and academic impact leading to a deeper understanding of society.
The Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction), presented by the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth
The Dartmouth Book Awards were established in 1989 by then mayor of Dartmouth, Dr. John Savage. The annual awards for fiction and non-fiction, valued at $2,500 each, honour the best books by Canadian authors published the previous year in celebration of Nova Scotia and its people.
Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing
The Atlantic Book Awards Society created the Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing and received an endowment from the Democracy 250 committee to fund the $2,000 annual prize for an outstanding work of non-fiction that promotes awareness of, and appreciation for, an aspect of the history of the Atlantic Provinces.
The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award was first presented in 1978. It is named in honour of Evelyn Richardson, who in 1945 won the Governor General’s Non-Fiction Award for We Keep A Light, her memoir of life in a family of lighthouse keepers in Shelburne County. The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award honors the best non-fiction titles by Nova Scotian writers and is facilitated by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.
The J.M. Abraham Poetry Award was created by the writing community in the late 1990s. The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, with the assistance of several poets, publishers, and post-secondary institutions, raised funds for an annual award program designed to honour the best book of poetry by an Atlantic Canadian. The award was first presented in 1998. In 2014, the award was named for the legacy of J.M. Abraham.
Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction), presented by Boyne Clarke
The Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for fiction is sponsored by Boyne Clarke Barristers and Solicitors. Dartmouth lawyer and activist Jim Connors was a volunteer juror of the fiction entries from the outset of the annual competitions until his death in 2008.
Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence in Illustration
Lillian Shepherd was a long-time buyer for the sadly defunct independent bookstore, The Book Room in Halifax. After her sudden death in 1997, this award was established by her many friends in 2002 to applaud the book that combines Lillian’s love for illustrated children’s books and her affinity for locally produced work. The $500 award that bears her name is sponsored by the Atlantic Independent Booksellers’ Association and the Atlantic Provinces Publishers’ Representatives.
Margaret and John Savage First Book Awards
The Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, presented for the first time in 2003 with a value of $1,500, recognizes the best first books published in the previous year by Atlantic writers. There are now two awards, valued at $2,500 each, one for fiction and one for non-fiction, and supported by many contributors from Dartmouth.
The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award was first presented in 1991. Established with an endowment by Thomas Head Raddall himself, and with ongoing support from the Raddall family, this award honours the work of fiction writers in the Atlantic region and, as the original benefactor envisioned, provides “the gift of time and peace of mind” so essential to the creation of new work. The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award is facilitated by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.
About the Atlantic Book Awards Society
The Board of the non-profit Atlantic Book Awards Society (ABAS) is made up of representatives of the Atlantic Canadian book and writing community. The 2020 Atlantic Book Awards and Festival gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Book Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Halifax Public Libraries, and the support of Chapters/Indigo/Coles and Alliance Française Halifax.