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Finalists – 2014 Trillium Book Award

English Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award



Craig Davidson, Toronto, Cataract City (Doubleday Canada)

Cataract City is a tourist town with a hold over those born within its borders, a place with more to it than first meets the eye. Owen Stuckey and Duncan Diggs are born and bred in Cataract City. They grow into men who dream of escape, a longing made more urgent by a traumatic childhood incident that cemented their friendship. But in adulthood, their paths diverge: Owen stays above the law, becoming a police officer, while Duncan sinks deep into the town's underworld. Inevitably, the two find themselves pitched against each other. At stake are not only survival and the possibility of escape, but their lifelong bond, which is once again tested against the haunting wilderness just outside city lines.

Craig Davidson

Craig Davidson was born and grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario. He has published three previous books of literary fiction: Rust and Bone, which was made into an Oscar-nominated feature film of the same name, The Fighter, and Sarah Court. Davidson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his articles and journalism have been published in the National Post, Esquire, GQ, The Walrus, and The Washington Post, among other places. Cataract City was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his partner and child.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.randomhouse.ca/books/220612/cataract-city-by-craig-davidson


Barry Dempster, Holland Landing, The Outside World (Pedlar Press)

Set in 1966 in a Toronto suburb, The Outside World follows Robinson Tedley, a teenager, whose mother is an agoraphobic who spends most of her time peering at the neighbours from her living room window, whose mentally challenged sister wants nothing more than to be outside in sunshine and whose father is perpetually oblivious to the tensions within his home. How can Robbie take care of his mother and his roaming sister when he’s got so much to contend with in the outside world? Girls, love, sex, school. Bullies and friendships and growing pains, the force of his own fears and anger. Pressing against Robbie's own difficulties are the troubles of a conservative 1950s mainstream. A dark and engaging coming-of-age story.

Barry Dempster

Barry Dempster, twice nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, is the author of fourteen poetry collections, two novels, two volumes of short stories and a children’s book. His collection The Burning Alphabet won the Canadian Authors’ Association Chalmers Award for Poetry in 2005. In 2010, he was a finalist for the Ontario Premiers Award for Excellence in the Arts. He is also Acquisitions Editor for Brick Books.

Publisher's Link: http://www.barrydempster.com/  


Lorna Goodison, Toronto/ Half Moon Bay, BC, Supplying Salt and Light (McClelland & Stewart)

This stunning book of poems opens in Spain and Portugal, conjuring up a new history of the Caribbean and a new way of setting up its heritage. The title sets the tone for poems about backgrounds and outlines and shadows and sources of light. Surprises occur at every turn in the book, as a Moorish mosque becomes a cathedral in Seville, a country girl dresses in Sunday clothes to visit a Jamaican bookmobile, and a bear appears suddenly, only to slip away silently into the trees on a road in British Columbia. The heartache of Billie Holiday singing the blues, the burden of Charlie Chaplin tramping the banana walks of Jamaica's Golden Cloud, and the paintings of El Greco come together on the poet's pilgrimage to Heartease, inspired by the passage-making of Dante; the book ends with a superb version of the first of his cantos, translated into the poet's Jamaican language and landscape with the gift of love.

Lorna Goodison

Lorna Goodison was born in Jamaica. She has published several collections of poetry, including Tamarind Season (1980), I am Becoming My Mother (1986), Heartease (1989), To Us All Flowers Are Roses and Selected Poems. She has been writer in residence at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, and at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA. Her volume of short stories, Baby Mother and the King of Swords, was published in 1990.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.mcclelland.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780771035906


Helen Humphreys, Kingston, Nocturne (HarperCollins Publishers)

Helen Humphreys’ younger brother, Martin, was diagnosed with stage 4B pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-five, he died four months later, leaving behind a grieving family. An extraordinary pianist who debuted at the Royal Festival Hall in London at the age of twenty, he became a piano teacher and senior examiner at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The two siblings, though often living far apart, were bonded on many levels. Humphreys has written a deeply felt, haunting memoir both about and for her brother. She lays bare their secrets, their disagreements, their early childhood together, and their intense though unspoken love for each other. A memoir of grief, an honest self-examination in the face of profound pain, this is a poetic, candid and intimate book.

Helen Humphreys

Helen Humphreys is an award-winning author of five acclaimed novels. Her last novel, Coventry, was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award, a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year. The Lost Garden was a Canada Reads selection. Afterimage won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; Leaving Earth received the Toronto Book Award; and The Frozen Thames was a #1 bestseller. In 2009, Humphreys was awarded the Harbourfront Festival Prize for literary excellence.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.harpercollins.ca/books/Nocturne-Humphreys-Helen/?isbn=9781443415477


Hannah Moscovitch, Toronto/ Halifax, NS, This is War (Playwrights Canada Press / Banff Centre Press)

An insightful and emotional look into the embittered psyche of soldiers in the aftermath of combat. Master Corporal Tanya Young, Captain Stephen Hughes, Private Jonny Henderson, and Sergeant Chris Anders have lived through an atrocity while holding one of the most volatile regions in Afghanistan. As each of them is interviewed by an unseen broadcasting organization, they recount their version of events leading up to the horrific incident with painful, relenting replies. What begins to form is a picture of the effects of guilt and the psychological toll of violence in a war where the enemy is sometimes indiscernible.

Hannah Moscovitch

Hannah Moscovitch’s work has won multiple Dora Awards and she’s been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Carol Bolt Award, and the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Hannah is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada and attended the University of Toronto. Her plays have been produced across the country, including at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto where she is currently playwright-in-residence, the Factory Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Great Canadian Theatre Company, and the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.playwrightscanada.com/index.php/this-is-war.html


Peter Unwin, Toronto, Life Without Death and Other Stories (Cormorant Books)

In this short story collection, ordinary people search for meaning in lives subject to change, chance, coincidence, and catastrophe. A man recalls a lifetime of love and loss while copying contacts out of his old little black book. A woman is left to dispose of her dying father’s secret stash of pornography. A new father discovers a way of connecting to his autistic son. For one day, guests to a wedding set aside their past misdeeds to celebrate a young couple’s union. A teenager introduced to a life of petty crime suddenly finds himself in way over his head. A man’s former acquaintance resurfaces decades later as the subject of a haunting art film. Unwin’s characters live full, complex lives within each story. Though they may not find the simple answers they seek, they gain great perspective on their journeys.

Peter Unwin

Peter Unwin was born in Sheffield, England, and raised in Southern Ontario. He studied at Carleton University in Ottawa.His previous fiction includes the short story collection The Rock Farmers, which was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and the novel Nine Bells for a Man. His non-fiction includes The Wolf's Head: Writing Lake Superior and Hard Surface: In Search of the    Canadian Road. He has travelled extensively in the Canadian north. Currently, he is a Master's candidate in Culture and Communications at York and Ryerson universities. An avid practitioner of martial arts, baseball, and literature, he lives in Toronto with his wife and two daughters. Publisher’s Link: http://www.cormorantbooks.com/9781770862432/

English Language Finalists For The Trillium Book Award For Poetry



Austin Clarke, Toronto, Where the Sun Shines Best (Guernica Editions)

Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry,
this work encompasses a tragedy of epic scope, a lyrical meditation on poverty, racism and war, and a powerful indictment of the ravages of imperialism. Three Canadian soldiers awaiting deployment to Afghanistan beat a homeless man to death on the steps of their armoury after a night of heavy drinking. The poet, whose downtown Toronto home overlooks the armoury and surrounding park, describes the crime, its perpetrators, the victim, and a cast of homeless witnesses. The subsequent trial evokes reflection on the immigrant experience the poet shares with one of the accused, and on the agony of that young soldier’s mother. 

Austin Clarke

Austin Clarke has published ten novels, six short story collections, and three memoirs in the United States, England, Canada, Australia, and Holland. In 2003 he had a private audience with Queen Elisabeth in honour of his Commonwealth Prize for his tenth novel, The Polished Hoe, which also won the Trillium Book Award. In 1998 he was invested with the Order of Canada, and he has received four honorary doctorates.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550716931


Adam Dickinson, St. Catharines, The Polymers (House of Anansi Press)

The Polymers
is a bold new work from one of our most ambitious poetic minds. Structured as an imaginary science project, the varied pieces in this collection investigate the intersection of poetry and chemicals, specifically plastics, attempting to understand their essential role in culture. Through various procedures, constraints, and formal mutations, the poems express the repeating structures fundamental to plastic molecules as they appear in cultural and linguistic behaviours such as arguments, anxieties, and trends. A wildly experimental and chemically reactive work, The Polymers thrills and provokes. You’ll never look at the world of a poem - or the world itself - in the same way again.

Adam Dickinson

Adam Dickinson's work has appeared in a number of literary journals and in anthologies such as Breathing Fire 2: Canada's New Poets, Post Prairie, and The Shape of Content, an anthology of creative writing in mathematics and science. He is the author of Cartography and Walking, which was shortlisted for an Alberta Book Award, and Kingdom, Phylum, a finalist for the 2007 Trillium Book Award for Poetry. The Polymer was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. Adam is currently professor of poetics at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, where he teaches poetry, creative writing, and literary theory.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.houseofanansi.com/The-Polymers-P2031.aspx


Souvankham Thammavongsa, Stouffville, Light (Pedlar Press)

Souvankham Thammavongsa’s third book of poetry, Light, examines the word that gives the collection its name. There are poems about a sparkle, about how to say light, about a scarecrow, a dung beetle, a fish without eyes. Known for her precision and elegance, for her small clear voice, for distilling meaning from details, for not wasting words, Thammavongsa confirms her gifts with these new poems. Light is a work that shines with rigour, humour, courage and grit.

Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa, born in Nong Khai, Thailand, won the 2004 ReLit prize for her first poetry book, Small Arguments. Her second poetry book, Found, was made into a short film and screened at film festivals worldwide, including Toronto International Film Festival and Dok Leipzig. Named one of “Best Under 35” writers in Canada in a special issue of The Windsor Review, she was also voted Best Beloved Canadian Poet by readers of the literary periodical The New Quarterly.  Souvankham lives in Stouffville, Ontario.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.pedlarpress.com/news/souvankham-thammavongsa/  

French Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award



Marguerite Andersen, Toronto, La mauvaise mère (Éditions Prise de parole)

Marguerite Andersen was eight years old when Hitler took power, fifteen when World War Two broke out, and twenty the day after the armistice. Eyes averted from the horror, thirsting for experience, in late 1946 she turned her back on that Germany. Pregnant, she went to Tunisia with her French lover, who would become her first husband. It was the beginning of a journey that would take her through love affairs and adventures, across three continents. She settled in Canada for good in 1958.

In the tradition of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s confessions, but from a woman’s experience, the author/narrator looks back on the defining moments of her life, especially those that involve her children and her role as a mother. She questions her choices and acknowledges her mistakes. Selected moments, fragments, are presented chronologically and enriched by her reflections as she looks back on these memories. The prose is sometimes chopped - anguished? – using blanks - pauses, silences – following the commands of the emotions her memory invokes.

Marguerite Andersen

A short story writer, novelist, poet, and essayist, Marguerite Andersen has published some 15 literary works as well as research papers. Since 1998, she has been co-director of the journal Virages, la nouvelle en revue. This cosmopolitan woman, who has lived in Tunisia, England, Ethiopia, Quebec, the United States, and France, today makes her home in Toronto.

Publisher’s Link: http://prisedeparole.ca/titres-livre/?id=3110


Andrée Christensen, Ottawa, Racines de neige (Éditions David)

In a burst of images, where every line is chiselled with the precise geometry of a snowflake, Andrée Christensen reveals the animal, vegetable and mineral DNA of winter. Like the snow that comes down for the sheer pleasure of falling, this collection is to be read for the simple joy of letting go and listening to silence. The author’s artworks accompany the poems.

Andrée Christensen

Ottawa-born Andrée Christensen is a poet, novelist, literary translator and visual artist. She has published more than twenty titles: poetry collections, novels, stories, literary translations and artists’ books with collaborators from Ontario and Quebec. Some of her work has been translated into English and Romanian. Her first novel, Depuis toujours, j’entendais la mer, won the 2007 Ottawa Book Award and the Prix Christine-Dumitriu-Van-Saanen and the 2008 Prix Le Droit and Prix littéraire Émile-Ollivier. The same book was shortlisted for the 21st Trillium Book Award and the Prix des lecteurs de Radio-Canada in 2008.

Publisher’s Link: http://editionsdavid.com/products-page/livres/racines-de-neige


Véronique-Marie Kaye, Ottawa, Afghanistan (Éditions Prise de parole)

A young immigrant, Jim, is waiting for Axelle, whom he hasn’t seen since their wonderful “starry night”. Determined to get away from the mediocrity of his father’s “Quilles Magic Bowling,” where he washes the floors in the wee hours of the morning, he has just enrolled in the army. Then Axelle arrives, eight months pregnant. At first cold and contemptuous, she is nevertheless struggling with her feelings for Jim. In a kitschy, aging bowling alley, the two teenagers have just one hour; each must try to get the other to accept their dream for the future. It will be an hour of determination, intelligence, tenderness and humour.

Véronique-Marie Kaye

Afghanistan is Véronique-Marie Kaye’s first book for teenaged readers. She has twice won the Prix O’Neill-Karch in the provincial playwriting contest organized by the Théâtre la Catapulte, Théâtre français de Toronto and Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario, and her novel Eulalie la Cigogne has just been published by Éditions Vents d’Ouest.

Publisher’s Link:  http://prisedeparole.ca/titres-livre/?id=3047


Philippe Porée-Kurrer, Toronto, Les Gardiens de l’Onirisphèr : La révélation de Stockholm  (Éditions JCL)

Magnus Solberg has created an artificial consciousness. His daughter, Selma, believes there is a link between this discovery and her father’s sudden disappearance. Having already lost her mother, the young French girl, now alone in the world, decides to take the family sailboat to Sweden, home of her ancestors on her father’s side, on. The sponsors of Solberg’s work are already using this artificial consciousness, but they are missing one piece of information that is crucial for their dream of domination. This sends them chasing after Selma who, they believe, holds the key to all their desires.

For young Selma, what began as a flight to avoid foster care gradually becomes a perilous adventure, fraught with danger. Luckily for her, she has allies. She does not know who they are, but all of them, without knowing it, are tied to one another in this unique story that opens the doors of an exciting world.

Philippe Porée-Kurrer

Philippe Porée-Kurrer was born in Fécamp, in Upper Normandy, whose heritage he claims, while also belonging to the Nordic kingdoms of the forefathers who gave him his name. He has been a pastry chef in Paris, a photographer in Manchester, and headwaiter on the ocean liner France – a job that enabled him to set foot on five continents. He came ashore in North America and became a grill chef in Texas, a street vendor in Montreal, a cook in the Yukon, and finally a lumberjack in the Lac-Saint-Jean region, where he met his wife Marylis. They settled on a farm and had six children. But he continues to define himself as a nomad, and for the past ten years has split his time between Toronto, Cortes Island, Stockholm, Iceland and the sea – always the sea.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.jcl.qc.ca/detail_livre/gardiens-de-onirisphere-la-revelation-de-stockholm-t-1/


Danièle Vallée, Ottawa, Sous la jupe (Éditions David)

Author Danièle Vallée and visual artist Suzon Demers wanted to do a project together, and the result was Sous la jupe, a book that seeks to create both literary and visual pleasure.

Inspired by fourteen paintings of female subjects by Suzon Demers, Danièle Vallée wrote fourteen short stories that brought these subjects to life as characters. As she has done in her previous published work (Debout sur la tête d'un chat, Le D2ux), Vallée offers us incisive and humorous texts that give resonance to the colourful canvases of her creative partner.

Danièle Vallée

Originally from Sherbrooke, Danièle Vallée has lived in Ottawa for many years. She has published seven books, including three short story collections that she is now turning into theatre, conferring on them a surprising artistic dimension, accentuated by blues, jazz and traditional music. 

Publisher’s Link: http://editionsdavid.com/products-page/livres/sous-la-jupe  

French Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry



Daniel Groleau Landry, Orleans, Rêver au réel (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

Rêver au réel
is a poetry collection that presents four stages of awakening: “ land of regret”, “cracked by bites”, “the pink unicorn”, and “the house of my body”, where the poet writes of skin-deep closeness, the loneliness that comes of ephemeral effervescence, and fetuses that keep growing in circles in the constellations. The poet’s style uses rhymes and alliteration to express thoughts that nestle inside one another like Russian dolls.

Daniel Groleau Landry


A theatre graduate of the University of Ottawa, Daniel Groleau Landry is the creator of Les Productions Àlacharge, a multidisciplinary organization of young artists in the national capital region. Originally from Sudbury, he now lives in Orleans.

Publisher’s Link: http://avoslivres.ca/products-page/livres/rver-au-rel





Michèle Matteau, Cumberland, Le fol aujourd’hui (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

This collection throws us onto a giant screen where the backdrop is the present state of the planet. Human actions and their chaotic relationship with nature come alive in the harsh light of words. The writing is always informed by time: the time for games, the time of fear, the time that opens into the one-way space of the ephemeral. The poet’s sharp eye sees through the gauzy illusions where insouciance tries to hide. Her sharp language tears apart the things that daze and intoxicate, that submerge us in a state of blindness or confine us in the constricting search for the self. With grating humour and images that are both in motion and emotional, Michèle Matteau invites us to take a step back from the madness of the present to look at our own blurred reflection from the other side of the mirror.

Michèle Matteau


Poet, playwright, novelist and short story writer Michèle Matteau has always made writing an essential part of her life. After her first book of fiction, Quatuor pour cordes sensibles, she published the trilogy À ta santé, la vie! which won acclaim from critics and booksellers. The first volume, Cognac et porto, won a 2002 Trillium Book Award, 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, and her novel Avant que ne tombe la nuit, published in 2012, was a Trillium Book Award finalist in 2013.

Publisher’s Link: http://interligne.avoslivres.ca/products-page/livres/le-fol-aujourdhui