Will Ferguson, winner of the 2012 Giller Prize for his novel 419, about Nigerian-based phone fraud, has won the best novel award from the Crime Writers of Canada for another international tale of crime.
He won the prize for his 2020 novel, The Finder, about a mysterious figure who collects "lost" objects (such as Fabergé eggs and Muhammad Ali’s Olympic gold medal) and an Interpol agent who searches for him.
The annual crime-writing awards were known for years as the Arthur Ellis Awards, named for the pseudonym of Canada’s last hangman.
Other award winners included Katrina Onstad, who won the Howard Engel award for the best crime novel set in Canada, for Stay Where I Can See You, a family drama about a woman who wins big in the lottery.
Journalist Justin Ling won the award for the best non-fiction crime book for Missing From the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice and the System that Failed Toronto’s Queer Community.
● ● ●
A British comedian and TV presenter’s crime novel, which became the fastest-selling crime novel in British history last year, earned him the author of the year award at this spring’s British Book Awards.
Richard Osman’s novel The Thursday Murder Club is described as both contemporary and nostalgic, with an "innate Britishness" that hit it off with the U.K. reading public.
The British Book Awards are unusual in that they mix more populist, page-turning fare with the sort of highbrow and challenging work that dominates more traditional literary awards. Thus, Shuggie Bain, the Booker Prize-winning novel of a grim Glasgow childhood by Douglas Stuart, won the best debut and the book of the year awards, and Maggie O’Farrell’s Women’s Fiction Prize-winning novel Hamnet, a fictionalized exploration of the life of Shakespeare’s son of the same name, won the top fiction award.
In other categories, Troubled Blood, the fifth novel by J.K. Rowling under her Robert Galbraith pen name, won the crime and thriller award, and Where the Crawdads Sing, the mega-seller about a woman brought up in the swamps of the South, by American Delia Owens, won the page-turner award.
The narrative non-fiction award went to Dara McAnulty, for Diary of a Young Naturalist, which he wrote at age 14, while the children’s fiction award went to The Highland Falcon Thief, an illustrated update of the classic "train mystery" story, by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman.
● ● ●
A novel about the detention of migrant children at the U.S. border is this year’s winner of one of the richest literary prizes in the world.
New York-based Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli won the Dublin Literary Prize, worth about $147,000, for Lost Children Archive, the first novel she has written in English.
The book tells the story of a New York intellectual couple travelling with their young children to the border to document the detention of unaccompanied minors at the border.
● ● ●
Backlist titles — industry jargon for older books — were key to keeping up healthy sales for the big international publishers last year, panelists at a major U.S. book show reported recently.
The panelists agreed that the pandemic was responsible for the increase in backlist sales, according to Publishers’ Weekly. That was attributed to the shift away from bookstores and toward more online buying, an environment that favours older, established titles over new books.
The shift to backlist sales meant that for the big publishers, sales were spread around a larger number of books and a greater variety of genres.
One executive of Penguin Random House said the shift in sales indicates the importance of the idea of a "long tail" in the book business. The long tail theory suggests that businesses can do better by having steady sellers over time rather than putting on their emphasis on big sales right away.