A novel about a Wolseley family thrown into crisis took top honours at the Manitoba Book Awards at the Ramada Marlborough on Saturday night.
Joan Thomas' latest novel The Opening Sky nabbed the McNally Robinson Book of the Year prize at the gala, presented by the Manitoba Writers' Guild and the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers.
Thomas, who was up for three awards on the evening, was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for fiction for the novel in late 2014 and received the $25,000 Engel/Findley Award from the Writers Trust of Canada in November, a prize awarded to a writer in mid-career.
Margaret Sweatman's Mr. Jones, a historical novel set after the Second World War that examines espionage, communism and the line between personal lives and politics, beat out Thomas and fellow nominees David Bergen, Karen Dudley, David A. Robertson and Alison Preston for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. Robertson, the only other three-time nominee of the evening, took home the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer.
Maurice Mierau won the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction for Detachment: An Adoption Memoir, which chronicled his adopting and raising two boys from Ukraine.
The Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, a category that features both fiction and non-fiction titles, was awarded to Jonathan Ball for John Paizs's Crime Wave, a book-length examination of the 1985 cult film. Ball also won the John Hirsch Award in 2014.
Ariel Gordon nabbed the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry for Stowaways, while the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book went to Brenda Sciberras and her poetry debut Magpie Days.
Two new categories were added to the awards this year. Deborah L. Delaronde won the Beatrice Mosionier Aboriginal Writer of the Year Award for her children's book Emma's Gift, while the Chris Johnson Award for Best Play by a Manitoba Playwright went to Rick Chafe for The Secret Mask. Chafe was also a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Drama in 2014.
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.