For the fourth time in his literary career, Winnipeg author David Bergen took home the top prize at the 2021 Manitoba Book Awards.
Here the Dark, a collection of short stories and a novella published by Biblioasis, won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year award, which Bergen also won for his debut novel A Year of Lesser (1996) as well as 2005’s The Time in Between and 2009’s The Retreat. Here the Dark was also a finalist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Among the competition for the top prize at this year’s Manitoba Book Awards, announced online on May 20, was David A. Robertson’s Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory (HarperCollins), which won the 2021 Alexander Kennedy Isbister award for non-fiction as well as the Carol Shields Winnipeg book award, as well as Lara Rae’s Dragonfly, published by J. Gordon Shillingford, which won this year’s Chris Johnson award for best play by a Manitoba playwright.
Jonathan Ball added to his Manitoba Book Award collection, winning the Margaret Laurence award for fiction for his debut collection of short fiction, The Lightning of Possible Storms, published by Book*hug Press. Ball previously won in the poetry category, as well as the 2014 award for most promising Manitoba writer.
Colleen Nelson took home the best book for young people (older category) for her book Harvey Comes Home (Pajama Press), while Steinbach author Andrew Unger, creator of the Daily Bonnet satirical website, won the Eileen McTavish Sykes award for best first book for Once Removed (Turnstone Press). (Unger is the featured author at this month’s Free Press Book Club — for more, see wfp.to/bookclub.)
The Manitowapow award, presented every two years to two Indigenous writers or oral performers for their work, was won by Duncan Mercredi and Lenard Monkman. The Mary Scorer award for best book by a Manitoba publisher went to Making Believe: Questions About Mennonites and Art by Magdalene Redekop, published by University of Manitoba Press.
For a complete list of the finalists and winners in each of the 11 categories, see manitobabookawards.ca.
Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.