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Finalists – 2015 Trillium Book Award

English Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award


Stone Mattress

Margaret Atwood, Toronto, Stone Mattress (McClelland & Stewart)

In this extraordinary collection, Margaret Atwood gives us nine unforgettable tales that reveal the grotesque, delightfully wicked facets of humanity. Alphinland, the first of three loosely linked tales, introduces us to a fantasy writer who is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband. In Lusus Naturae, a young woman, monstrously transformed by a genetic defect, is mistaken for a vampire. And in the title story, a woman who has killed four husbands discovers an opportunity to exact vengeance on the first man who ever wronged her. By turns thrilling, funny, and thought-provoking, Stone Mattress affirms Atwood as our greatest creator of world - and as an incisive chronicler of our darkest impulses.

M Atwood

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; and her most recent, MaddAddam. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/237875/stone-mattress-by-margaret-atwood/

Love Enough

Dionne Brand, Toronto, Love Enough (Knopf Canada)

In Love Enough, the sharp beauty of Brand's writing draws us effortlessly into the intersecting stories of her characters caught in the middle of choices, apprehensions, fears. Each of the tales here - June's, Bedri's, Da'uud's, Lia's, opens a different window on the city they all live in, mostly in parallel, but occasionally, delicately, touching and crossing one another. Each story radiates other stories. In these pages, the urban landscape cannot be untangled from the emotional one; they mingle, shift and cleave to one another. At once lucid and dream-like, Love Enough is a profoundly modern work that speaks to the most fundamental questions of how we live now.

Brand Dionne Falconer

Dionne Brand’s literary credentials are legion. Her most recent book of poetry is Ossuaries, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize; her 9 others include winners of the Governor General's Literary Award, the Trillium Book Award and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Her novel In Another Place, Not Here was Selected as a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year and a Best Book by the Globe and Mail; At the Full and Change of the Moon was also selected a Best Book by the LA Times. Her novel What We All Long For was published to great acclaim in Canada, Italy and Germany and won the Toronto Book Award. In 2006, Brand was awarded the Harbourfront Festival Prize for her contribution to the world of books and writing, and was Toronto's Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012. Brand is Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. She lives in Toronto.

Publisher's Link:http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/237781/love-enough  

How You Were Born

Kate Cayley, Toronto, How You Were Born (Pedlar Press)

Kate Cayley has written a collection of poetry, When This World Comes to an End, published by Brick Books, and a young adult novel, The Hangman in the Mirror, published by Annick Press. Her short stories and poems have appeared in literary magazines across the country. She has been a playwright-in-residence at Tarragon Theatre since 2009, and has written two plays for Tarragon, After Akhmatova and The Bakelite Masterpiece.

Kate Cayley

Kate Cayley’s poetry and short stories have appeared in literary magazines across the country. Her play, After Akhmatova, was produced by Tarragon Theatre, where she is a playwright-in-residence, and a young adult novel, The Hangman in the Mirror, was published by Annick Press in 2011. Last year Brick Books published her first poetry collection, When This World Comes to an EndHow You Were Born is Cayley’s first collection of short fiction.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.pedlarpress.com/news/how-you-were-born/

Old Masters

James King, Hamilton, Old Masters (Cormorant Books)

An English novelist is forced by his publisher to write an extremely well-financed biography of the late Gabriel Brown, an eminent dealer in Old Masters. Though the project is of little interest to the writer, he does his duty, even moving into Brown’s manor in order to immerse himself in the man’s life. What starts as a mercenary exercise turns fiercely personal when a shocking series of revelations about Gabriel Brown’s apparently paint-by-the-numbers career causes Boyd to question his own deep-seated beliefs about creative expression.

Written from the perspective of a biographer with a complicated relationship to his subject, Old Masters is a refractive and reflective study of art and artists which asks, Who “owns” art? How do you define genius? What do you do when confronted with brilliance - do you surrender, or confront it head-on?

James King

James King is the author of five novels: Faking, Blue Moon, Transformations, Pure Inventions, and Etienne’s Alphabet. He is also the author of nine works of biography, the subjects of which include William Blake, Margaret Laurence, Jack McClelland, and Farley Mowat. His biography of Herbert Read, The Last Modern, was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award. James King lives in Hamilton and teaches at McMaster University in the Department of English.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.cormorantbooks.com/9781770864221/

The Back of the Turtle

Thomas King, Guelph, The Back of the Turtle (HarperCollins Publishers)

In The Back of the Turtle, Gabriel returns to Smoke River, the reserve where his mother grew up and to which she returned with Gabriel’s sister. The reserve is deserted after an environmental disaster killed the population, including Gabriel’s family, and the wildlife. Gabriel, a brilliant scientist working for Domidion, created GreenSweep, and indirectly led to the crisis. Now he has come to see the damage and to kill himself in the sea. But as he prepares to let the water take him, he sees a young girl in the waves. Plunging in, he saves her, and soon is saving others. Who are these people with their long black hair and almond eyes who have fallen from the sky?

Filled with brilliant characters, trademark wit, wordplay and a thorough knowledge of native myth and story-telling, this novel is a masterpiece by one of our most important writers.

T King

Thomas King is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter and photographer of Cherokee and Greek descent. His acclaimed, bestselling fiction includes Medicine River, Truth and Bright Water, and A Short History of Indians in Canada. His non-fiction The Truth About Stories won the Trillium Book Award, and The Back of the Turtle won the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. A member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of an award from the National Aboriginal Foundation, Thomas King is a University Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.harpercollins.ca/9781443431620/books/Back-Turtle-King-Thomas/

Up Ghost River

Edmund Metatawabin, Fort Albany, with Alexandra Shimo, Toronto, Up Ghost River (Knopf Canada)

A powerful, raw yet eloquent memoir from a residential school survivor and former First Nations Chief, Up Ghost River is a necessary step toward our collective healing. In the 1950s, 7-year-old Edmund Metatawabin was separated from his family and placed in one of Canada’s worst residential schools in north­ern Ontario. The book details the resulting trauma and physical and emotional absue he suffered. Even as Metatawabin built the trappings of a successful adult life - wife, kids, career - he was tormented by horrific memories .The trauma haunted him throughout his adult life until he reconnected with his Native past and rediscovered the spirit within himself and his community through traditional spirituality and knowledge.

E Metabawabin

Edmund Metatawabin, former Chief of Fort Albany First Nation, is a Cree writer, educator and activist. A residential school survivor, he has devoted himself to righting the wrongs of the past, and educating Native youth in traditional knowledge. Metatawabin now lives in his self-made log house in Fort Albany, Ontario, off the reserve boundary, on land he refers to as my “Grandfathers’ Land.” He owns a local sawmill and also works as a consultant, speaker and researcher


Alexandra Shimo is a former radio producer for the CBC and former editor at Maclean’s. An award-winning journalist, she is the author of The Environment Equation, which was published in 12 countries. She lives in Toronto.

Publisher’s Link: http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/227773/ghost-river#9780307399908

English Language Finalists For The Trillium Book Award For Poetry




Brecken Hancock, Ottawa, Broom Broom (Coach House Books)

Nothing slips by Brecken Hancock's deft ear as she seductively plumbs the depths of the evolution of bathing, doppelgängers, the Kraken, and the minutiae of family with all its tragic misgivings. The poems in Broom Broom pervert the rational, safe parts of the world to extoll and absorb the sweep of human history.

“Brecken Hancock’s Broom Broom is a charged delight for formalists, with her carefully constructed melange of tercets, couplets, haiku, but it’s in her jarring scenery and unsettling pacing that these poems of domesticity and violence come thrillingly to life.” — National Post

B Hancock

Brecken Hancock's poetry, essays, interviews and reviews have appeared in Event, CV2, Grain, The Fiddlehead and Studies in Canadian Literature. She is Reviews Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine and Interviews Editor for Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. Broom Broom is her first book of poetry. She lives in Ottawa.

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


Aisha Sasha John, Toronto, THOU (BookThug)

Following the successful reception of her first book, The Shining Material, comes Aisha Sasha John's THOU – a powerful collection of two long, narrative poems exploring the social space that exists between the self and others. Using the language that connects these two states of being, THOU investigates the idea of “you” – what it is and what it means to say “you,” the stories we make of our own multiple “yous,” and by extension, the “you” an author can make of her own book. Building on the emotionally charged language of John's previous work, THOU will tantalize readers' senses, and will provoke comparisons to such acclaimed poets as Anne Carson (especially Glass, Irony and God) and Alice Notley.

Aisha Sasha John

Aisha Sasha John is a dancer and poet. She is the author of THOU (BookThug 2014) and The Shining Material (BookThug 2011).

Publisher’s Link: http://bookthug.ca/shop/aisha-sasha-john/thou-poetry-by-aisha-sasha-john/

House Dreams

Deanna Young, Ottawa, House Dreams (Brick Books)

House Dreams, Deanna Young’s haunted and haunting third collection, is at once a core sample of the life we all live underground, and a view beneath the foundations of the various eras and places that make up one woman’s life story. These poems have the plainspoken power, surreal shifting, uncanny logic and transformed everyday imagery of our most numinous dreams. It’s as if Jung’s assertion that “[w]hen an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate,” is taken up here as a reading guide back through time. A book of dark corners and shifting locations, full of switches that light up he unobvious places, elsewhere in the house.

D Young

Deanna Young’s previous books are Drunkard’s Path and The Still Before a Storm. House Dreams is her third book of poetryHer writing has appeared in journals across Canada and received numerous acknowledgments, including the grand prize in the 2013 PRISM international Poetry Contest. Originally from southwestern Ontario, she now lives in Ottawa where she edits, teaches and co-directs the Tree Reading Series.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.brickbooks.ca/shop/house-dreams/ 

French Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award



Martine Batanian, Ottawa, Clinique (Éditions Marchand de feuilles)

It all started with a book of cave art. One of the pages had a drawing of a pregnant woman. One day, Soline drew a circle around the belly and wrote “I want that”. She had two dreams in life: to be a schoolteacher and to have children. Today, she is chasing one of those dreams. Overcrowded clinics, an acupuncturist who is an expert in the subconscious, an amorous librarian, and endless baby showers are all part of her day-to-day life. If, as people keep saying, the birth of a baby gives everything meaning, isn't it natural for her ideas about life to be turned upside down? Martine Batanian decided to write before the pain subsided, to defy shame. This book is neither a lament nor the story of a miracle; it is a narrative of life as it is.

Martine Batanian

Martine Batanian was born in Victoriaville, the daughter of an Armenian couple. Clinique is her second book, which won the Prix littéraire Émergence of the Franco-Ontarian authors’ association, the AAOF. She has her B.A. in journalism and her Master’s in creative writing from Université du Québec à Montréal (Prix Hurtubise HMH 2008). She lives and works in Ottawa.

Publisher’s Link:  http://www.marchanddefeuilles.com/marchanddefeuilles_001.htm

Violoncelle pour lune d’automne

Michel Dallaire, Sudbury, Violoncelle pour lune d’automne (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

Between Sudbury and Morocco, lives are made and unmade as characters are pulled along trails deeply ingrained in the flesh and the mind. In this novel of three strong voices (father, mother and daughter), the author explores the twists and turns of these captivating lives marked by happiness and upheavals, both artistic and romantic. Poetry and music play fundamental roles, and the cello becomes a secondary character. Michel Dallaire artfully delves into the relationship between the present and the past. He judiciously examines otherness, memory and the imagination, the things human beings turn to for sustenance throughout their existence. Violoncelle pour lune d’automne is a well-crafted work that keeps the reader on tenterhooks in a storyline delivered with great finesse.

Michel Dallaire

Acclaimed as a poet, novelist, short story writer and lyricist, Michel Dallaire has published several poetry collections and novels and one book of short stories. He has also produced three poetry albums in collaboration with Daniel Bédard. As a lyricist, he has written the words to songs for a number of singer-songwriters.

Publisher’s Link: http://interligne.avoslivres.ca/products-page/violoncelle-pour-lune-d-automne/

J’irai danser sur la tombe de Senghor

Blaise Ndala, Ottawa, J’irai danser sur la tombe de Senghor (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

We already know who won the 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaïre. But we don’t know the inside story of the “Fight of the Century”, which forms the backdrop to this improbable African saga. Forty years later, with great insight, Blaise Ndala’s novel takes us deep inside the sociopolitical dimensions of a universe as nightmarish as it was fantastical. Music, skulduggery and magic run through the life of Modéro, a hero in spite of himself, from his native village of Banza to Kinshasa and all the way to New York.

This novel is a powerful text that drifts back and forth between the colourful and the solemn. It is a discerning inquiry into the history of a postcolonial Africa in full torment in a changing world. However, there is every reason to believe the “old demons” that run through the story will continue to haunt a continent oscillating between illusions and illuminations, and this makes the book current and compelling.

Blaise Ndala

Blaise Ndala was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2003, he went to Belgium for law school. He moved to Canada in 2007 and now lives in the Ottawa area, where he is a federal civil servant. J’irai danser sur la tombe de Senghor is his first novel.

Publisher’s Link: http://interligne.avoslivres.ca/products-page/j-irai-danser-sur-la-tombe-de-senghor/

Le Vol de l’ange

Daniel Poliquin, Ottawa, Le Vol de l’ange (Les Éditions Prise du Boréal)   

The starting point for Daniel Poliquin’s eighth novel, Le Vol de l’ange, is the practice of auctioning off children and old people, which existed in New Brunswick between 1875 and 1925. The story begins and ends with the auctions and they serve as the backdrop for a novel that is more philosophical than historical. The main character, unnamed and voiceless, relates his thoughts on love, life, and death. Conscious even before his own birth, this “gentleman” gets all he can out of this bittersweet life that is his. Poliquin deftly delivers a novel tinged with melancholy and humour, but which is above all profoundly human. This novel brings a touch of warmth to the recesses of the soul.

Daniel Poliquin

Born in Ottawa, Daniel Poliquin is a writer and translator who divides his time between his hometown and Nova Scotia. His best-known novels are L’Homme de paille (1998 Trillium Book Award winner) and La Kermesse (Giller Prize finalist). In 2007, he received the Prix du Consulat général de France à Toronto for his lifetime work. He has his Ph.D., is a Knight of the Ordre de la Pléiade, recipient of Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee Medal, Member of the Order of Canada, doctor honoris causa of the University of Ottawa, and a Knight of the Ordre des arts et lettres de la République française.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.editionsboreal.qc.ca/catalogue/livres/vol-ange-2386.html

De Marie de l’Incarnation à Nelly Arcan

Patricia Smart, Ottawa, De Marie de l’Incarnation à Nelly Arcan (Les Éditions du Boréal)

This book originated from the desire to explore the experiences of women who have witnessed and made possible the great moments in the public history of Quebec, from the first French landing in North America to the attainment of individual and collective freedom of expression that came with the Quiet Revolution. Feminist historians have examined the situation of these women, but we have rarely heard the protagonists’ own voices or been directly exposed to their points of view on the world around them or their internal journeys. These are the voices Patricia Smart makes heard in her new book.

All these texts speak of an inner self that despite being repressed and inhibited refuses to fall silent. These women wrote as an integral part of the search for identity and as a way of getting a grasp on the world. Their diaries and letters are much more than revealing accounts of social realities; they are deeply personal writings that belong to the realm of literature.

Patricia Smart

Patricia Smart is professor emerita at Carleton University. She is the author of Writing in the Father’s House: the Emergence of the Feminine in the Quebec Literary Tradition, which won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction in French (French original, 1988), and of Les Femmes du Refus Global (Boréal, 1998).

Publisher’s Link: http://www.editionsboreal.qc.ca/catalogue/livres/marie-incarnation-nelly-arcan-2408.html

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

Larouspiol l


Diya Lim, Mississauga, Larouspiol suivi de Les enfants du ciel (Les Éditions L’Interligne)


After the death of her beloved grandfather, a preteen consoles herself with frequent escapes into a utopian, imaginary world she calls Larouspiol. This fresh planet, located 60 light-years from Earth, allows her to take an introspective voyage and proves to be a positive way for the heroine to respond to her little daily sorrows and her larger griefs.

Les enfants du ciel

Two utterly extraordinary human beings, whose fates are linked by a divine prophecy, are born at a time when the Earth is ravaged by senseless wars: a boy named Yang Tse and a girl named Siao Lin. Tinged with the supernatural and carrying strong messages about self-confidence and intuition, Les enfants du ciel will not disappoint young readers looking for magic and adventure. A story to be devoured with the appetite of a dragon!

Diya Lim


Originally from Mauritius, one of the jewels that adorn the Indian Ocean, Diya Lim was a shy, dreamy child. Later, she studied in France, and she now lives in Mississauga, Ontario, where she works as a translator and reviser in the education sector, and as a writer of youth literature.

Publisher’s Link: http://interligne.avoslivres.ca/products-page/larouspiol-suivi-de-les-enfants-du-ciel/



Mauvaise mine


Micheline Marchand, Lafontaine, Mauvaise mine (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

Since the mine closed, life has been hard for the people of a Northern Ontario community. Alain Laflamme, 17, and his family have their share of problems: unemployment, sickness and solitude. When a company called Solutions 3000 proposes to convert the mine to a landfill, the townspeople begin to hope again. But the choice is heartrending: support the company, and the promises of jobs it holds out, or preserve a healthy environment. Tensions are high, the situation explosive. Alain is deep in a dilemma of his own. Should he fight the project to win the admiration of Catherine, the environmental activist he loves, or stand with his father, who has become an employee of Solutions 3000? Moreover, his family life, darkened by the shadow of his mother’s illness, is on the brink of collapse. No wonder Alain “looks terrible”! The “mauvaise mine” of the title is a play on words referring to the expression on his face as well as the mine in town.

Micheline Marchand


Micheline Marchand is originally from Lafontaine, a village in Ontario near Georgian Bay. Passionate about history, she has published several youth novels, a collection of literary short stories, and historical works. The French roots of her Huronia region, the ancient land of the Wendat people, fascinate and inspire her.

Publisher’s Link: http://interligne.avoslivres.ca/products-page/mauvaise-mine/