Partly because I am addicted to reading lists and partly because I have discovered many of my favourite writers because their names appeared on various literary prizelists (long or short or eligible), I look forward to this time of year, in hopes of discovering new favourites.

ECW Press, 2013

ECW Press, 2013

When I see the name of a favourite writer appear on the list, I am ridiculously pleased.

A little squeal when I learned that Carrie Snyder had been nominated for the Writers’ Trust Award because I so admired The Juliet Stories and Hair HatA wriggle in the seat when I spotted Dominique Fortier’s Wonder , nominated for Sheila Fischman’s translation, on the GG list. Rapid claps for Jennifer Lovegrove’s The Way We Walk on the Giller longlist. A big smile upon seeing Sweetland appear on the GG list.

But then I am disappointed when a favourite book doesn’t appear on the lists.

Because I was so swept away by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer’s All the Broken Things (2014), Dennison Smith’s The Eye of the Day (2014), Richard Wagamese’s Medicine Walk (2014), and Alexi Zentner’s The Lobster Kings (2014), I check the lists repeatedly, convinced I have simply overlooked their names.

I look, too, for Nadia Bozak’s Border novels because they were so striking, even though I am still smarting from the experience of reading them. (Orphan Love would not have been eligible obviously, as it was published in 2007, though it is the first in the trilogy.)

And I make reading lists of reading lists, determined to finish the shortlists before winners’ names are announced.

Toronto Book Award 2014
✔Anthony De Sa’s Kicking the Sky (RHC)
Charlotte Gray ‘s The Massey Murder: A Maid, her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country (HC)
✔Carrianne K.Y. Leung’s The Wondrous Woo (Inanna)
Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis’s The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement (RHC)
✔Shyam Selvadurai’s The Hungry Ghosts (RHC)

Thoughts: From Shyam Selvadurai’s bookstore scenes, to Carrianne K.Y. Leung’s transit rides, to Anthony De Sa’s rooftops, the Toronto-ness of these three novels recommends them readily for the award. The Massey Murder and The Stop are both on my shelves, but being non-fiction they haven’t lunged into my TBR stacks. I can’t decide which to read first, so I suppose it will come down to whether, in the moment, I want a thrill or a snack.

Giller Prize 2014 Shortlist:
David Bezmozgis’s The Betrayers (HC)
Frances Itani’s Tell (HC)
✔Sean Michaels’ Us Conductors (RHC)
✔Heather O’Neill’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (HC)
✔Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows (RHC)
✔Padma Viswanathan’s The Ever After of Ashwin Rao (RHC)

Paradise Elsewhere PageGiller Prize 2014 Longlist:
✔Arjun Basu’s Waiting for the Man (ECW)
Rivka Galchen’s American Innovations (HC)
✔Jennifer Lovegrove’s Watch How We Walk (ECW)
✔Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab (RHC)
✔Kathy Page’s Paradise and Elsewhere (Biblioasis)
Claire Holden Rothman’s My October (PBC)

Thoughts: Although I absolutely loved David Bezmozgis’s Natasha and Other Stories, I did not feel as impassioned about The Free World, a novel that I admired more than loved; I’ve had a copy of The Betrayers for awhile now, but it keeps getting shuffled into the stack every time it nears the top (despite my fondness for other broken plate fiction). But because the other three works that I have yet to read are of equal interest, I will likely pluck it out of the stack next, rather than settle the ‘tie’ between the other three in my reader’s mind.

Governor General’s Award for Fiction in English
✔ Michael Crummey’s Sweetland (RHC)
Bill Gaston’s Juliet Was a Surprise (PBC)
Claire Holden Rothman’s My October (PBC)
Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle (HC)
Joan Thomas’ The Opening Sky (RHC)

Thoughts: Because Sweetland is one of my favourite reads of the year, it’s tempting to set aside the reading of the remainder of the shortlist so that I can focus on hoping for the one novel I’ve read on it so far; Michael Crummey’s work is always of great interest to me (he is on my MustReadEverything list of authors) and I find myself wanting the narrator of the novel to win this prize, to even out the losses he endured, as much as I want Michael Crummey’s writing to be recognized. But Thomas King is on my MRE list too, and I’ve been eyeing Bill Gaston’s fiction and Joan Thomas’ debut for ages. Because I’ve read so few of these titles, this list piques my curiosity.

All Broken Things KuitenbrouwerIFOA2014 Reading (partial list)
Kamal Al-Solaylee, Linwood Barclay, Renné Benoit,
David Bergen, David Bezmozgis, Jared Bland,
Joseph Boyden, Nadia Bozak, Dionne Brand,
Catherine Bush, Claire Cameron, Michael Crummey,
Nick Cutter, Jeffery DeaverFarzana Doctor,
Emma Donoghue, Krista Foss, Steven Galloway,
Sheila Heti, Linda Holeman, Aislinn Hunter,
Ghalib Islam, Frances Itani, Andrew Kaufman,
Thomas King, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Laila Lalami,
Yan Li, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Lee Maracle,
Peter May, Eimear McBride, Mark Medley,
K.D. MillerLorrie Moore,
Shani Mootoo, Susin Nielsen, Grace O’Connell,
Heather O’Neill, Carol Off, Katrina Onstad,
Kathy Page, Alison Pick, Tom Rachman,
David Adams Richards, Ray Robertson,
Claire Holden Rothman, Karen Russell,
Diane Schoemperlen, Johanna Skibsrud, Carrie Snyder,
Ania Szado, Lynn Thomson, Kim Thúy,
Miriam Toews, Christos Tsiolkas, Colm Tóibín,
Rebecca Upjohn, Priscila Uppal, Richard Wagamese,
Russell Wangersky, Sarah Waters, Ruby Wiebe,
Kathleen Winter, Alissa York, Alexi Zentner

Thoughts: The IFOA is my favourite literary event of the year. In recent years, I have been much more excited about the Canadian authors and less invested in the international appearances, but this year I am really looking forward to seeing Christos Tsiolkas, Colm Tóibín and Sarah Waters (who is also on my MRE list of authors). And oh my, hasn’t it been forever since Diane Schoemperlen had a new book? (She’s on that MRE list too.) And how much did I love Annabel? Enough to buy Kathleen Winter’s Boundless in hardcover at Toronto’s Word on the Street last month. And even though I think the event with Susin Nielsen is intended to be for young readers, I would love to attend it too. It looks to be another great year at IFOA; I’m counting the days.

Carrie Snyder Girl RunnerRogers Writers’ Trust Shortlist 
André Alexis’ Pastoral (Coach House Books)
K.D. Miller’s All Saints (Biblioasis)
✔Steven Galloway’s The Confabulist (RHC)
Carrie Snyder’s Girl Runner (House of Anansi)
✔Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows (RHC)

Thoughts: Girl Runner is the novel on this list which I am most excited to read (see my gush-y Spelling It Out post about The Juliet Stories), but I have been collecting André Alexis’ books for years and yet have only read short pieces (from Beauty & Sadness), so I’m looking forward to Pastoral too. Even though I’ve enjoyed other collections from Biblioasis (like Nancy Jo Cullen‘s and Cynthia Flood‘s), I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of K.D.Miller’s collection, but I thought the first story was unputdownable (as the best character-driven tales can be), so I’m looking forward to it as well. I really loved the layering in Steven Galloway’s The Confabulist and Miriam Toews’ writing consistently impresses me with her skillful handling of difficult themes the voice of All My Puny Sorrows is beautifully drawn. I anticipate being torn when it comes to choosing a favourite here.

If you could give an award to one book you’ve recently finished reading, to which book would you grant it?

Are any of your favourite writers/books on the lists here?

Are you watching any awards lists this season?