> Home > Book > Trillium Book Award > Finalists – 2013 Trillium Book Award

Finalists – 2013 Trillium Book Award

English Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award



Tamara Faith Berger, Toronto, Maidenhead (Coach House Books)

On a beach in Key West, sixteen-year-old Myra meets Elijah, a Tanzanian musician twice her age. Trapped on a Spring Break family vacation, Myra longs to lose her virginity to Elijah, and is shocked to learn he lives with Gayl, a secretive, violent woman with a strange power over him. When Myra and her splitting-up family return home, she falls in with a pot-smoking anarchist crowd. But when Gayl and Elijah follow her north, she walks willingly into their world, engaging in more and more abject sexual games. As Myra enters unfamiliar worlds of sex, porn, race and class, she explores territories unknown in herself. Maidenhead traverses the desperate, wild spaces of a teenage girl’s self-consciousness.


Tamara Faith Berger was born in Toronto. Her first book, Lie with Me, was published in 1999. In 2004, The Way of the Whore, her second book, was published. In 2005, Lie with Me was made into a film. Maidenhead is her third book. Berger is presently working on a novel about a Russian hired killer. She is a graduate student at UBC working on her Masters of Fine Arts and currently lives in Toronto.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/maidenhead


Steven Heighton, Kingston, The Dead Are More Visible (Alfred A.Knopf Canada)

The profoundly moving and finely crafted stories in The Dead Are More Visible encapsulate wildly divergent themes of love and loss, containment and exclusion. In the title story, a parks & rec worker faces an assailant who does not leave the altercation intact. A medical researcher and his claustrophobic fiancée are locked in the trunk of their car after a failed carjacking (the thief can't drive standard). A young woman enters a pharmaceutical trial in the outer reaches of suburbia and slips between sleeping and waking with increasingly alarming ease. This astounding, tightly curated collection of short stories highlights Heightons’s strengths at writing fiction that does not sacrifice humour, depth and emotion for the sake of brevity.


Steven Heighton is the author of the novel Afterlands, which was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice along with a best book of the year selection in ten publications in Canada, the US, and the UK. His book, The Shadow Boxer, was a Canadian bestseller and a Publishers Weekly Book of the Year. His work has been translated into ten languages, and his poems and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Heighton has won several awards and has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Trillium Book Award, and Britain’s W.H. Smith Award.  He currently lives in Kingston.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.randomhouse.ca/books/77936/the-dead-are-more-visible-by-steven-heighton


Thomas King, Guelph, The Inconvenient Indian (Doubleday Canada)

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a "history" and the complete subversion of a history-a critical and personal meditation that Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be "Indian" in North America. King weaves the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.


Thomas King is one of Canada's premier Native public intellectuals. For the past five decades, he has worked as an activist for Native causes, as an administrator in Native programs, and has taught Native literature and history at universities in the U.S. and Canada. King was the first Aboriginal person to deliver the prestigious Massey Lectures, and is the bestselling, award-winning author of five novels and two collections of short stories. His book, The Truth About Stories won the 2004 Trillium Book Award.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.randomhouse.ca/books/93028/the-inconvenient-indian-by-thomas-king


Alice Munro, Clinton, Dear Life: Stories (McClelland & Stewart)

With her peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but spacious and timeless stories, Alice Munro illumines the moment a life is shaped -- the moment a dream, or sex, or perhaps a simple twist of fate turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into another way of being. Suffused with Munro's clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these stories (set in the world Munro has made her own: the countryside and towns around Lake Huron) about departures and beginnings, accidents, dangers, and homecomings both virtual and real, paint a vivid and lasting portrait of how strange, dangerous, and extraordinary the ordinary life can be.


Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario. She has published fourteen previous books and during her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including: three Governor General's Literary Awards, two Giller Prizes and two Trillium Book Award prizes in Canada; the Rea Award, the Lannan Literary Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Man Booker International Prize. The author lives Clinton, Ontario.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.mcclelland.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780771064869


Emily Schultz, Wallaceburg, The Blondes (Doubleday Canada)

Hazel Hayes is a grad student living in New York City. She learns she is pregnant (from an affair with her married professor) at an apocalyptically bad time: random but deadly attacks on passers-by, all by blonde women, are terrorizing New Yorkers. Soon it becomes clear that the attacks are symptoms of a strange illness that is transforming blondes into rabid killers. Vulnerable because of her pregnancy, Hazel decides to flee the city, but finds that the epidemic has spread. She sets out on a trip across a paralyzed America to find the one woman - perhaps blonde, perhaps not -who might be able to help her. Emily Schultz's beautifully realized novel is a mix of satire, thriller, and serious literary work. Show More


Emily Schultz is the co-founder of the literary journal Joyland and the host of the podcast Truth & Fiction. Her writing has appeared in several newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Her novel, Heaven Is Small, was named a finalist for the 2010 Trillium Book Award. She has worked as an editor and as a creative writing instructor. Emily currently lives in Brooklyn and Wallaceburg with her husband where together they write scripts.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.randomhouse.ca/books/209848/the-blondes-by-emily-schultz


Linda Spalding, Toronto, The Purchase (McClelland & Stewart)

In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead. When Daniel suddenly trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to two murders and the family's strange relationship with a runaway slave named Bett. Spalding's writing envelops the reader in the world and time of the novel, and follows the lives of unforgettable characters. Inspired by stories of the author's own ancestors, The Purchase is a resonant, powerful and timeless novel.


Born in Kansas, Linda Spalding immigrated to Canada in 1982. She is the author of three novels and a work of nonfiction, The Follow, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award and the Pearson Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize. She received the Harbourfront Festival Prize for her contribution to the Canadian literary community.  The Purchase was the winner of the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award. She lives in Toronto.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.mcclelland.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780771079351

English Language Finalists For The Trillium Book Award For Poetry



Mathew Henderson, Toronto, The Lease (Coach House Books)

Distilled from his time in the Saskatchewan and Albertan oilfields, Mathew Henderson’s The Lease plumbs the prairie depths to find human technology and physical labour realigning our landscape. With acute discipline, Henderson illuminates the stubborn and often unflattering realities of industrial culture and its cast of hard-living men.


Mathew Henderson is a recent graduate of the University of Guelph’s MFA program. Originally from Prince Edward Island, he now lives in Toronto, writes about the prairies and teaches at Humber College.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/lease


Sandy Pool, Toronto, Undark: An Oratorio (Nightwood Editions)

Sandy Pool’s second collection of poetry, Undark: An Oratorio, is equal parts dramatic elegy and poetic inquisition written in seven distinct voices. Drawing from the historical record of the ‘radium women’ and other instances of historical erasure, the work urges us to engage deeply with questions of time and women’s history. The book confronts Bakhtin’s notorious questions: What happens to time when history is being erased? What happens when time takes on flesh?


Sandy Pool is a multidisciplinary artist and recently appointed Killam scholar. She holds a degree in Theatre Performance and English from the University of Toronto, as well as a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University Guelph. Currently, she is a doctoral student in Canadian Literature and Poetics at the University of Calgary, where she is the editor of Dandelion magazine. Sandy’s first book, Exploding into Night, was nominated for the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. She is also a librettist and voice work artist.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.harbourpublishing.com/title/Undark


Matthew Tierney, Toronto, Probably Inevitable (Coach House Books)

These are high-energy poems riddled with wit and legerdemain and jolted by the philosophy and science of time. ‘Time’s not the market, it’s the bustle; / not the price but worth,” he muses, sailing through the rhythms and algorithms of a world made concrete by Samuel Johnson, before it was undone by Niels Bohr. Tierney’s narrators grapple with the gap between what’s seen and what’s experienced, their minds tuned to one (probably) inevitable truth: the more I understand, the more I understand I’m alone. What continues to set Matthew Tierney’s poems apart is their uncanny ability to find within the nomenclature of science not mere novelty but a new path to human frailty, a renewed assertion of individuality, and a genuine awe at existence.


Matthew Tierney is a former recipient of the K.M. Hunter Award, and has placed his poems in numerous journals and magazines across Canada. His previous book, The Hayflick Limit, was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. He lives in Toronto

Publisher’s Link: http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/probably-inevitable

French Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award


Claude Guilmain, Toronto, Comment on dit ça, « t’es mort », en anglais ? (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

This story feels as though it were written on bruised skin. It is imbued with the malaise of three solitudes who are tearing each other apart: the narrator, his brother and their father. Underlying it all is the fact that the characters do not dare admit the failure of their chaotic past and are powerless to tear themselves away from it. Entrenched in their self-destructive positions, the characters seek refuge in violence. The reader witnesses the plight of desperate human beings being pulled this way and that, and tied to a kind of family stake for sacrifice.


A playwright, conceptualizer, set designer, director and producer, Claude Guilmain is a co-founder of the Toronto creative company Théâtre La Tangente, and was its artistic director for 13 years.

Publisher’s link: http://aucoindelapage.ca/index.php/manufacturers_id/44


Christel Larosière (pseudonym of Daniel Soha), Toronto, Le manuscrit (Éditions du Gref)

“Suddenly she comes across a brief passage, simple, beautiful, and mysterious: ‘I stood up as well and very gently kissed her forehead. “But you,” she said, “you haven’t told me anything.”  “Another time,” I said, smiling. Then she calmed down, settled into a chair, and decided to read. She wanted to know more, yet she had not told me anything, either. She let herself be won over by that smile, kissed on the forehead, charmed.’ ”

Christel Larosière

With both Canadian and French citizenship, but with strong ties to Asia as well, Christel Larosière currently divides her time between Bangkok and Toronto. The inspiration that was the prelude to writing her novel Le manuscrit is, in her words, the result of “an emotional partnership between Canada, France and Thailand”. Christel has published three novels in Canada under another name.


Marie-Josée Martin, Ottawa, Un jour, ils entendront mes silences (Éditions David)

Corinne is a severely handicapped girl. She has little movement and cannot talk. Through her very clear eyes, we witness her small victories, but also the heavy demands, worries and tears in the fabric of the family that her condition ultimately imposes. Her fondest wish is simply to live in spite of differences. This book is a fresh and moving look at the pain, heartaches and limitations, but also the joys, of a child who is not like others, and who shakes our concepts of normality.


Originally from Montréal, Marie-Josée Martin discovered a passion for music and words at a young age. A translator, editor and columnist, she has worked on various magazines. Her first novel, Fils d’Ariane, was published in 2005. As a child, she survived a metastasizing neuroblastoma against the expectations of the “white coats”, but lost the use of both legs. She grew up in Beloeil, east of Montreal, in an era when wheelchair ramps were still a rarity. Today, she lives in the French-speaking Ottawa neighbourhood of Vanier.

Publisher’s link: http://editionsdavid.com/products-page/livres/un-jour-ils-entendront-mes-silences


Michèle Matteau, Ottawa, Avant que ne tombe la nuit (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

Some night when you don’t want to be among the sleeping, open Michèle Matteau’s latest novel. Immerse yourself in Avant que ne tombe la nuit, the sequel to Du Chaos pour une étoile. Among the characters born of this prolific author’s imagination, you’ll find an anguished Léandre, slipping down the slope of his old age.

But who is Léandre? A retired teacher who, driven by an insatiable curiosity and immense generosity, watches over the Franco-Ontarian village of Villery. As the book goes on, the reader feels more and more sympathy for this 73-year-old man who seeks to understand his fellow human beings and their actions. He watches over his lover, Florence Santerre, a host at Radio-Canada, who has been drifting away from him. He watches over the old doctor, Ladislas Vermes, who tends a cemetery in the form of pots of African violets, and over nurse Séraphine Akimana and her teenage son, whose arrival in Villery challenges certain narrow minds to open up. Léandre is the pivot for this staunchly modern story of an isolated village that finds itself dealing with the world’s problems.


Passionate about life, Michèle Matteau has always made writing an essential part of her existence. Her trilogy, À ta santé, la vie! was a success with critics and booksellers. The first volume, Cognac et porto, won the Trillium Book Award for 2002, while the third, Un doigt de brandy dans un verre de lait chaud, was awarded the Prix Christine-Dimitriu-van-Saanen in 2005. Her first collection of poetry, Passerelles, won the 2010 Trillium Book Award for Poetry in French.

Publisher’s link: http://www.interligne.ca/index.cfm?Id=4725&Voir=nouv&repertoire_no=2137990675


Paul Savoie, Toronto, Bleu bémol (Éditions David)

Inspired by music, Bleu Bémol is composed of assonances, rhythms, musical phrases, and improvisations that outline the beginning and the end of everything that matters. Paul Savoie delves into the different dimensions of “blue”: the colour, a mood, that zone of being that enables him to pierce the gray or to go through crystal, two of the pathways that give shape to his imaginary world.


Paul Savoie is one of Canada’s most prolific authors, writing in both French and English. Originally from Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, he has lived in Ontario since the early 1970s. He has written more than 20 works, including several collections of poetry, stories and translations. His book of poems, Crac, won the Trillium Book Award. Involved in the arts community for more than 25 years, Savoie also composes music for piano.

Publisher’s link: http://editionsdavid.com/products-page/livres/bleu-bmol

French Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award for Children's Literature


Claude Forand, Markham, Un moine trop bavard (Éditions David)

In Chesterville P.Q., the little community of the Precious Blood Monastery is shaken by a dastardly murder: Brother Adrien is found dead in the barn, with a crucifix embedded in his throat. The only witness seems to have been Zacharie, the simple-minded farmboy, who disappeared on the night of the murder. Sergeant Roméo Dubuc leads the investigation, along with his sidekick, Lucien Langlois. Unfortunately for the two sleuths, there are so many clues that nothing is clear: mysterious tattoos, a heretical sect, secret passageways. Could it be that these men of God, whose lives are devoted to manual labour and prayer, have sold their souls to the devil?


Claude Forand was born in Plessisville, Québec. Now a self-employed certified translator working in Toronto, he was a free-lance journalist for some 20 years, writing for various scientific and financial magazines and French-language CBC radio. Un moine trop bavard is Forand’s fifth book published by Éditions David.

Publisher’s link:  http://editionsdavid.com/products-page/livres/un-moine-trop-bavard


Michèle Laframboise, Mississauga, Mica, fille de Transyl (Éditions Vents d’Ouest)

Night protects Day, Day feeds Night… Mica is a daughter of the night, and proud to be one. Her race, persecuted and misunderstood, has been hiding from humanity for thousands of years. In the New World where the Frankenstein has landed, the Lords of the Night have been ruling unchallenged for five centuries. They protect the peasant Diurnals against an abundance of threats: dangerous werewolves, gluttonous bearcoons, and revenge-birds… not to mention mutant bacteria that are capable of decimating an entire village. Between werewolf hunts, schoolwork and guard duty, Mica has been making troubling discoveries. The Diurnals are dying younger, in spite of the vaccines being produced at the Stoker Institute. Her own mother is experiencing strange episodes of malaise. Dorian, her fiery brother, wants to join the Jackals, a gang of bandits that harasses the peasants. And what has happened to the wreck of the Frankenstein? Then, a foreign vessel touches down on their world, and Mica finds a young Diurnal hiding in the library. She embarks on a quest for truth that will prove fraught with peril.


Michèle Laframboise is an ex-scientist who has become an author and artist. With pen or paintbrush, she concocts captivating plots that unfold in worlds full of poetry. She has published close to twenty novels and comic books, as well as numerous short stories, and has won several literary awards and distinctions.

Publisher’s link:   http://www.ventsdouest.ca/Livres.asp?IDL=343


Daniel Marchildon, Penetanguishene, Les guerriers de l’eau (Les Éditions du Vermillon)

The year is 2086. Fourteen-year-old Victor goes with his mother, a Toronto doctor named Alma Bénéteau, on a humanitarian mission to Houston in the former State of Texas. The United States has become an anarchical collection of city-states, where warlords battle one another to expand their territories and monopolize resources. During Victor and Alma’s stay, a desperate Dallas, emboldened by the development of a mysterious new weapon, breaks a truce and attacks Houston to seize control of the latter’s precious water. Caught in this absurd and bloody conflict, Alma and Victor must fight for their own survival. Les guerriers de l’eau, (the Water Warriors) are prepared to do anything at all, but they become enmeshed in a devastating web.


“Right or wrong, but always passionate.” This is the motto that inspires Daniel Marchildon, a Franco-Ontarian who was raised and still lives in Penetanguishene. An author and freelance writer since 1983, he has published several youth novels, a history textbook, La Huronie, and novels for adults, including L’eau de vie, winner of the 2009 Prix Émile-Ollivier. He won the 2011 French-language Trillium Book Award for Children's Literature for his novel La première guerre de Toronto.

Publisher’s link: http://vermillon.avoslivres.ca/products-page/livres/les-guerriers-de-leau