“Sometimes you get a feeling about these things,” Michael Crummey joked at today’s 20th anniversary of the NL Book Awards, “and my feeling was I wouldn’t be up here today.” But he did win for his novel Sweetland. Crummey was shortlisted alongside heavy hitters Sara Tilley & Joan Clarke.

Crummey was quick to get political at the podium. “I think what I’d like to say here today is how important the library in Buchans was for me, and what a difference that place made to my life. And I don’t think I’d be up here today if it wasn’t for that place.” The Buchans library is one of many the new budget is slated to shut down.

He went on to say that “for the pittance it costs our government to run these libraries, I think they really enrich the lives of our communities in ways that cannot be counted. So this, ” he said, hoisting the award, “is for the library in Buchans.”

Today’s win marks Michael Crummey as the only author to have won the Writers Alliance’s NL Book Award in both the fiction and poetry categories. Crummey won the 1996 NLBA poetry prize for Arguments with Gravity.

In his NL Book Award-winning novel, Sweetland, 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.

Janet McNaughton Wins the Bruneau Family Children’s/YA NL Book Award

Every year, the NLBAs alternate between awards in Fiction & Children’s, and Non-fiction & Poetry. As a result, the award shortlists represent the best of not one, but two years of local literature in these genres. Below was this year’s shortlist for the children’s/YA category.

    • Charis Cotter for The Swallow: A Ghost Story (Penguin Random House)
    • Susan M. MacDonald for Time for Treason (Breakwater Books)
    • Janet McNaughton for Flame and Ashes: The Great Fire Diary of Triffie Winsor (Scholastic)

According to the judges, Flame and Ashes: The Great Fire Diary of Triffie Winsor “shows not only how life can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye-but also how resilient and adaptive children are in the wake of a disaster. With meticulous research, McNaughton weaves an engaging tale …

“Flame and Ashes, with a beautifully crafted narrative, will give all readers – young and old – poignant insight into an amazing “coming of age” story during one of the most important periods in Newfoundland history.”