crummey sweetland

There are three major Canadian literary awards for fiction writers — The Giller Prize, The Writers’ Trust Award, and the Governor General’s Award for Fiction — and thanks to Michael Crummey’s Sweetland making the GG award shortlist yesterday, we can say that a Newfoundland author has been shortlisted for at least one of these prestigious awards every year for a decade now.

Since 2005, we’ve had someone on at least one of these shortlists, and in 2010, Kathleen Winter found herself on all three for her novel, Annabel.

We are particularly adept at Giller nominations, and considering that it’s the glitziest and most glamorous of the lot — with its $100,000 purse — no one is complaining about our affinity for the award. Although maybe it’s a curse; despite more than 10 nominations, a Newfoundlander has never won this award.

Familiar names who have been recognized by the Giller Prize include Lisa Moore (3 times!), Kenneth J. Harvey, Russell Wangersky, Michael Winter, Kathleen Winter, and Wayne Johnston.

Getting back to Michael Crummey, this is the second time he has saved this decade-long streak. In 2009, his novel Galore was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, after he and other very well-received novels like Come, Thou Tortoise (Jessica Grant) and February (Lisa Moore) were snubbed by the juries of both the Giller Prize and Writers’ Trust award. When it comes to representing the literary worth of his beloved home province, Michael Crummey is officially a two-time hero.

In his new, and now GG-nominated novel, the government offers the town of Sweetland a sweet resettlement package. The catch and conflict in the book is that every person must take the package for the government to grant it. One man, Moses Sweetland, refuses to go.  Everything from death threats to veiled respect ensues.

In Sweetland, Crummey tackles modern day resettlement with humour, heartbreak, and vibrantly rendered characters. The book does much to capture what makes a community, and home, such a dynamic and irreplaceable place. Read more about Sweetland at his publisher’s website.