Thursday, April 22, 2010

Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards

The three finalists for the fiction category of the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Book awards have been announced. This is a biennial award for fiction which honours excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador writing from the previous two years.

This year's deserving finalists are:

Blackstrap Hawco, by Kenneth J. Harvey

"Fifteen years in the making, this book is the one Canada’s “heavyweight champ of brash and beautiful literature” was meant to write. An epic masterwork about Newfoundland’s working class, Blackstrap Hawco spans more than a century in gorgeous and widely varied prose, reminding us that even when writing about the degradation of identity and language, Harvey does it magnificently.

Named in a moment of anger, Blackstrap Hawco is heir to an island dominion picked over by its adoptive nation. From the arrivals of the indentured Irish to the Victorian drawing rooms of the English merchants, from the perilous seal hunt to the raucous iron ore mines, from a notorious disaster at sea to the relocation of outport communities, the family legend might be all his people have left to live for. But as Blackstrap Hawco – a novel that will consume you in its dazzling swirl of voices, legends and beautiful hearsay – testifies, a story this haunting, this powerful, might just be enough." publisher

February, by Lisa Moore

"In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine's Day storm. All eighty-four men aboard died. February is the story of Helen O'Mara, one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns. It begins in the present-day, but spirals back again and again to the "February" that persists in Helen's mind and heart.

In her external life, Helen O'Mara cleans and does yoga and looks after her grandchildren and shakes hands with solitude. In her internal life, she continually revisits Cal. Then, one night she gets a phone call: her son John is coming home. He has made a girl pregnant after a brief, sex-filled week in Iceland. As John grapples with what it might mean to be a father, Helen comes to terms with her need to remember the dead.

Writing at the peak of her form, her steadfast refusal to sentimentalize coupled with an almost shocking ability to render the precise details of her characters' physical and emotional worlds, Lisa Moore gives us her strongest work yet. Here is a novel about complex love and cauterizing grief, about past and present and how memory knits them together, about a fiercely close community and its universal struggles, and finally about our need to imagine a future, no matter how fragile. A profound, gorgeous, heart-stopping work from one of our best writers." publisher

Come, Thou Tortoise, by Jessica Grant

"A delightfully offbeat story that features an opinionated tortoise and an IQ-challenged narrator who find themselves in the middle of a life-changing mystery.

Audrey (a.k.a. Oddly) Flowers is living quietly in Oregon with Winnifred, her tortoise, when she finds out her dear father has been knocked into a coma back in Newfoundland. Despite her fear of flying, she goes to him, but not before she reluctantly dumps Winnifred with her unreliable friends. Poor Winnifred.

When Audrey disarms an Air Marshal en route to St. John’s we begin to realize there’s something, well, odd about her. And we soon know that Audrey’s quest to discover who her father really was – and reunite with Winnifred – will be an adventure like no other." publisher

Past winners:

2008 Cloud of Bone, by Bernice Morgan

2006 An Audience of Chairs, by Joan Clark

2004 In the Chambers of the Sea, by Susan Rendell

2002 The Confessions of Nipper Mooney, by Ed Kavanagh

2000 Stranger Things Have Happened, by Carmelita McGrath

1998 Gaff Topsails, by Patrick Kavanagh

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