After being saved by a crowdfunding campaign and a pair of charitable foundations, Canada’s national literary award for humour, the Stephen Leacock Medal, has announced its list of nominations for the 2021 award, with Thomas King’s Indians on Vacation the best-known work.
The medal, which comes with a $15,000 prize, will be sponsored by the Dunkley Charitable Foundation for the next five years, with the Glasswaters Foundation also contributing $20,000 per year for five years.
In addition to King’s book, a bittersweet story of an Indigenous couple travelling in Europe, nominated books include Tyler Enfield’s postmodern western Like Rum-Drunk Angels, which recently won a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America; Joseph Kertes’ Last Impressions, the story of a dying Hungarian immigrant and his secrets; Jane Christmas’s Open House: A Life in Thirty Two Moves, a memoir of moving and dealing with an overheated housing market; Maria Reva’s Good Citizens Need Not Fear, a collection of short stories set in late-Soviet-era Ukraine; and Morgan Murray’s Dirty Birds, a coming-of-age novel about the allure of Montreal, which is also nominated for three prizes in the Atlantic Book Awards.
The 10-book long list will be whittled down to three finalists Monday, and the winner will be announced June 4.
● ● ●
Disney Publishing is about to become a player in the adult reading market with the launch of its new imprint, Hyperion Avenue, which aims to publish 50 to 60 books a year.
Disney, which got out of the adult market eight years ago, plans to publish its first Hyperion Avenue titles this summer, according to a Publishers Weekly story on the launch.
Some of the books from Hyperion will be developed in-house, meaning based on existing Disney properties, but the company is also looking to acquire titles from outside. Among the books in the pipeline is Yes, And, a novel set in the world of improv, written by former Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich.
Another aspect of Disney’s publishing plans is the launch of a new series of books based on reimagined versions of traditional stories, such as a new take on Cinderella entitled If the Shoe Fits, written by Dumplin’ author Julie Murphy.
● ● ●
Prolific Winnipeg poet J.R. Léveillé launches a book of collaborative bilingual poetry Thursday in an online event that also features literary scholar Rosmarin Heidenreich.
Léveillé co-wrote his collection Ex Nihilo (At Bay Press) with the late E.D. Blodgett, author of some 20 poetry collections, who died in 2018. The two wrote using a Japanese style called renga in which each poet writes in response to the other.
To participate in the launch, see wfp.to/nihilo.
● ● ●
The Canadian book industry stands to gain $39 million over two years from the recent federal budget — with a big portion of the increased funding earmarked to help compete with Amazon.
The budget proposes providing $32 million to help bookstores increase online sales and $7 million to support Canada’s presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest, where Canada is to be the featured nation this year.
● ● ●
Winnipeg publisher Signature Editions has a fresh crop of poems blooming this spring — some of them, appropriately enough, by a farmer/poet.
James Scoles, who teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Winnipeg and helps to run a 120-year-old family farm, launches his first book of poetry. The Trailer is a collection of poems exploring love, loss, class and success, set on the edge of a city and in mobile homes.
Lori Cayer launches her fifth book of poetry, a long poem entitled Searching for Signal, which focuses on grief and mourning. Cayer, a past winner of Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for best first book by a Manitoba writer, was nominated recently for the ReLit Award for Poetry for her most recent book, Mrs. Romanov.