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. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the NLBAs. 

Newfoundland and Labrador Award for Fiction

Sponsored this year by: Killick Capital, Noreen Golfman, John and Jan O’Dea, and Fisher’s Loft.

  • Joan Clark for The Birthday Lunch (Penguin Random House)
  • Michael Crummey for Sweetland (Doubleday Canada)
  • Sara Tilley for Duke (Pedlar Press)

The judges called The Birthday Lunch “perhaps her best yet … Lily McNab on her 58th birthday is hit by a truck and killed while crossing the street. Clark masterfully spins a yarn out of this accident, exploring the ramifications for those affected … including the boy who drove the truck … Clark’s approach is delicate, shrewd, and compassionate. The characters, especially Laverne, are sharply drawn … This is an eminently readable, tightly written, accomplished novel.”

The judges called Sweetland “an atmospheric tale of a man who is so attached to his small island home that he decides to stay there when the whole community makes a permanent move to the mainland. Memories, isolation and hunger wear him down from reality into a haunted dream-state.   Crummey effectively uses his seductive powers of plot and language, and originality of style and voice to take the reader along on Sweetland’s wanderings.”

Duke is shortlisted fresh off its Winterset win. The judges called it “an extraordinary book for the uniqueness of its principal voice, a barely literate but unusually articulate narrator, William Marmaduke Tilley (aka Duke) and for the universality of its focus, the dream of finding “easy” wealth in distant places … an epic story that grabs the reader by the ear and sustains our fascination from the first line to the last.”

Bruneau Family Foundation Children’s/YA Literature Award:

Sponsored by the Bruneau Family

  • 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)

The judges said The Swallow: A Ghost Story “merges contemporary realism with gothic creepiness as her two young protagonists, Polly and Rose, wind their way through a world where nothing is exactly as it appears … Cotter is an accomplished writer, and the narrative drive of the story, pushed along in alternating Polly/Rose chapters, is impressive. Her deft touch and camera eye make for fluid, engaging readability.”

The judges called Time for Treason “a strong, well-written book, one that young adults, especially fans of sci-fi, will undoubtedly welcome. The author demonstrates a sure touch with character and action, taking command of the story with cinematic flair. From the opening pages the reader is immersed in a powerfully imagined, multidimensional other world, one that never loses sight of human emotion. MacDonald is making a substantial mark in her chosen genre.”

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.

Public Readings by the Finalists: 

Fiction: Tuesday, May 31, 7:30 p.m., Suncor Energy Hall, Memorial University.

Children’s/YA Lit: Sunday, May 29, 2 p.m., Rocket Room, Rocket Bakery, 272 Water Street.

The winning authors, to be announced at a ceremony on June 6 at Government House in St. John’s, will each receive a cash prize of $1,500; each finalist receives $500.

The Newfoundland & Labrador Book Awards are sponsored by the Literary Arts Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and administered by the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador under the distinguished patronage of The Honourable Frank Fagan, CM, ONL, MBA, Lieutenant Governor of NL.