Literary website honours local pair


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Canada’s leading literary website, The 49th Shelf, has named Winnipeg’s David Bergen and Katherena Vermette to its 20-book best-of-2016 list.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/12/2016 (2058 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Canada’s leading literary website, The 49th Shelf, has named Winnipeg’s David Bergen and Katherena Vermette to its 20-book best-of-2016 list.

Bergen’s novel Stranger focuses on issues of wealth and poverty and North and South in its story of a Guatemalan woman who treks to the United States to find the baby that was taken from her. Vermette’s The Break is a multi-perspective story of women in the North End connected by a shocking crime. It was a finalist for both the Governor General’s Award and the Rogers Writers Trust Prize.

The site’s list is an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction and different genres, including Kamal al-Solaylee’s non-fiction account of race and racism, Brown; Gemma Files’s dark fantasy Experimental Film; Teva Harrison’s illustrated memoir of her experience with cancer, In Between Days; and Jen Sookfong Lee’s literary crime novel, The Conjoined.


The full list, for those with gift cards to use in the days ahead, is available at

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A new law in California aimed at curbing sales of fraudulent collectibles threatens to be devastating to the state’s used book stores, according to a story on the literary website Lithub.

AARON HARRIS / CANADIAN PRESS FILES Giller Prize winner David Bergen.

Prompted in part by complaints by Star Wars actor Mark Hamill that collectibles were being sold with his forged signature, law AB 1570 will require any retailer who sells signed items for more than $5 to keep a detailed account of previous owners and a database of serial numbers.

The problem, of course, is that authors on book tours sign dozens or hundreds of books at every stop, and some of those books will make their way to used book stores and sell for $5 to $10 — not as collectibles, but just as cheap reads. Bookstores fear that the law will be an administrative nightmare and put them at risk of lawsuits.

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Speaking of collectibles, one of the most storied objects in literary history was sold this month for approximately 434,000 euros (more than $600,000 Canadian) — seven times more than expected.

According to website the Daily Beast, the owner of the pistol used by the symbolist poet Paul Verlaine when he shot and wounded his lover Arthur Rimbaud in 1873 didn’t know what he had until he saw a 1995 Leonardo DiCaprio film about the two poets. After seeing the film, collector Jacque Ruth looked into the history of the little revolver in his cupboard, leading eventually to the recent bonanza.

The shooting came shortly before Rimbaud finished his influential book of poetry A Season in Hell, and led to a prison sentence and jailhouse book by Verlaine.

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The murder last June of British MP Jo Cox by a man with neo-Nazi connections will be explored in a new book by a Toronto-born British writer.

Award-winning crime author Kester Aspden will explore the murder, the rise of nationalism and the far right and his own experiences growing up in Yorkshire, represented by the late Labour MP. The book will be published in Britain and the Commonwealth by the firm Serpent’s Tail.

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The book business loves to promote young authors who manage to find a voice and a publisher while they’re barely out of school.

Three American book-industry insiders are countering that tendency with a website that focuses on the best debut books by writers 35 or older.

Writer Kera Yonker, publicist Sarah Russo and designer Charles Orr have assembled their third annual 35 Over 35 list to recognize the accomplishments of writers who may have spent a decade or more writing, and holding down day jobs, in order to publish a book. The list, which contains novels, short-story and essay collections, memoirs and works of history and reportage, can be found at

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