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Finalists – 2017 Trillium Book Award

English Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award


The Hidden Keys

André Alexis, The Hidden Keys, Coach House Books

In the depths of the ill-reputed Green Dolphin bar in Toronto, Tancred Palmieri, a talented thief with extravagant tastes, encounters Willow Azarian, an aging heroin addict. She reveals to Tancred that her very wealthy father has recently passed away, leaving each of his five children a mysterious object that provides a clue to the whereabouts of a large inheritance. Willow enlists Tancred to steal these objects from her siblings and solve the puzzle. A Japanese screen, a painting that plays music, an aquavit bottle, a framed poem, and a model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Are these really clues, or has Tancred fallen victim to the delusions of a junkie? Inspired by a reading of Treasure IslandThe Hidden Keys questions what it means to be honourable and faithful in the face of desire.

André Alexis

André Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His most recent novel, Fifteen Dogs, won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and Canada Reads 2017. His debut novel, Childhood, won the Trillium Book Award, Books in Canada First Novel Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His other books include Pastoral (nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize), Asylum, Beauty and SadnessIngrid & the Wolf, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa and Lambton, Kent and Other Vistas: A Play.

Publisher link: https://chbooks.com/Books/T/The-Hidden-Keys5


Kamal Al-Solaylee, Brown, HarperCollins Publishers

Historically speaking, issues of race and skin colour have been interpreted along black and white lines, leaving out millions of people whose stories of migration and racial experiences have shaped our modern world. Brown is packed with storytelling and on-the-street reporting conducted over two years in ten countries from four continents that reveal a multitude of lives and stories. It contains striking research about immigration, workers’ lives and conditions, and the pursuit of a lighter shade of brown as a global status symbol. It is also a personal book, as the author reflects on his own identity and experiences as a brown-skinned person (in his case from Yemen) who has grown up with images of whiteness as the only indicators of beauty and desire.

Kamal Al-Solaylee

Kamal Al-Solaylee is an associate professor at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University. Al-Solaylee also worked at the Globe & Mail, Report on Business magazine and has written features and reviews for the Toronto StarNational PostThe WalrusToronto LifeChatelaine, the Literary Review of Canada and Elle Canada. His bestselling memoir Intolerable was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and Canada Reads, and won the Toronto Book Award. Brown was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Literary Non-fiction and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and included on numerous ‘Best Book of the Year’ lists. Al-Solaylee has taught at the University of Waterloo and York University and lives in Toronto.

Publisher link: http://www.harpercollins.ca/9781443441438/brown

For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known

Danila Botha, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Tightrope Books

In For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Danila Botha explores the nuances and complexity of relationships, from love to betrayal. In these eighteen unforgettable stories, Botha creates characters so authentic, readers are convinced that they know them personally. As in her debut collection, Got No Secrets, Botha excels at blending literary techniques with popular zeitgeist. With her trademark honest and singular voice, Botha exposes the desire for human connection above all things. The collection is hopeful, fearless, and utterly relatable.

Danila Botha

Danila Botha is a fiction writer based in Toronto. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has lived in Israel, and in Nova Scotia. Her first collection of short stories, Got No Secrets, was praised by the Globe and Mail, the Chronicle Herald and the Cape Town Times. It was also named one of Britannica’s Books of the Year (Canadian short stories), and was published in South Africa in 2011. Her first novel, Too Much on the Inside, was shortlisted for the 2016 Relit Award and won a Book Excellence Award for Contemporary Novel. Her sophomore collection of short stories, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I've Known, was published in 2016 to rave reviews. It was also recently named a finalist for the 2017 Trillium Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel and on a new collection of short stories. Read more on her website: www.danilabotha.com

Publisher link: http://tightropebooks.com/for-all-the-men/

Waiting for the Cyclone

Leesa Dean, Waiting for the Cyclone, Brindle & Glass Publishing

In the land of fiction, women are too often cast as inherently good—typically kind, always considerate, and traditionally in possession of high morals. Not so in the recklessly audacious stories in Waiting for the Cyclone. A mother in need of rehabilitation, a wife who wakes up in the arms of a man who isn’t her husband, a young woman who comes face-to-face with a bully from years ago. These women don’t need to be liked, do not comply to set expectations, and are not compelled to make apologies. These women, and a dozen more, are perfectly imperfect. A collection of short stories that behaves much like the weather pattern it was named for, Waiting for the Cyclone is at times fast and reckless and at others, calm yet under high pressure.

Leesa Dean

Leesa Dean is a graduate of the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing MFA program and a recent professor at Humber College in Toronto. She’s been a finalist for the Irving Layton Award, the Litpop Award, and the Quebec Writing Competition. She is the Interviews Editor for The Humber Literary Review and a regular contributor to The New QuarterlyWaiting for the Cyclone is her first book. She currently teaches English and Creative Writing for Selkirk College's University Arts and Sciences department in the West Kootenay region of BC.

Publisher link: http://www.brindleandglass.com/book_details.php?isbn_upc=9781927366509

Throaty Wipes

Susan Holbrook, Throaty Wipes, Coach House Books

In 1934, Gertrude Stein asked ‘What is poetry and if you know what poetry is what is prose?’ Throaty Wipes answers this question and many more! How does broadband work? Does ‘chuffed’ mean pleased or displeased? What if the generations of Adam had mothers? Through her signature fusion of formal innovation and lyricism, Holbrook delivers what we've been waiting for.

Susan Holbrook

Susan Holbrook's poetry books are Joy Is So Exhausting which was nominated for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, Good Egg Bad Seed and misled which was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award. She lives in Leamington, Ontario and teaches North American literatures and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor. She is the author of a poetry textbook, Reading (and Writing About) Poetry and co-editor, with Thomas Dilworth, of The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson: Composition as Conversation.

Publisher link: https://chbooks.com/Books/T/Throaty-Wipes

The Sweetest One

Melanie Mah, The Sweetest One, Cormorant Books

Cosmopolitan and curious seventeen-year-old Chrysler Wong suffers from a debilitating fear brought on by belief in a family curse. Three of her siblings have died after turning eighteen and venturing beyond the borders of their tiny rural Alberta town, and the fourth, her favourite, has recently left and is incommunicado. Is she destined to share their fate – or worse, doomed to live a circumscribed life?

Melanie Mah

Melanie Mah was born in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, and currently resides in Toronto. The Sweetest One is her first novel. She is a freelance writer in Toronto and a graduate of the University of Guelph MFA in Creative Writing.

Publisher link: http://www.cormorantbooks.com/9781770864320/

English Language Finalists For The Trillium Book Award For Poetry


Settler Education: Poems

Laurie D. Graham, Settler Education: Poems, McClelland & Stewart

In the stunning poems of Settler Education, Laurie D. Graham vividly explores the Plains Cree uprising at Frog Lake - the death of nine settlers, the hanging of six Cree warriors, the imprisonment of Big Bear, and the opening of the Prairies to unfettered settlement. In ways possible only with such an honest act of imagination, and with language at once terse and capacious, Settler Education reckons with how these pasts repeat and reconstitute themselves in the present.

Laurie D. Graham

Laurie D. Graham’s first book of poetry, Rove, was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. Poems from her second collection, Settler Education, were shortlisted for CBC Poetry Prize and won The Puritan’s Thomas Morton Memorial Prize for Poetry. Graham holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria and an MFA from the University of Guelph. She is an editor of Brick, A Literary Journal, as well as an instructor at Fanshawe College. She grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta, and currently lives in Kitchener, Ontario.

Publisher link: http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/531790/settler-education#9780771036873

Yes or Nopel

Meaghan Strimas, Yes or Nope, Mansfield Press

Funny and frank, playful and unpredictable, frequently outrageous and undeniably smart—Meaghan Strimas’s poems explore the lives of girls, women, and a few bad men who maybe wish they were a little better. Strimas tackles the darkest and most disturbing subjects with a sense of humour that never fails to find evidence of a grand, cosmic joke. Bad relationships, unhealthy friendships, and creepy neighbours abound in this lively collection, which is as compulsively readable as it is emotionally unsettling. Oh, and there’s a poem about hog-farming, too.

Meaghan Strimas

Meaghan Strimas is the author of two poetry collections, Junkman’s Daughter and A Good Time Had By All, and the editor of The Selected Gwendolyn MacEwan. She grew up in Owen Sound, Ontario, and lives in Toronto, where she is a professor in the Department of English at Humber College and the managing editor of the Humber Literary Review.

Publisher link: http://mansfieldpress.net/2016/10/yes-or-nope/

A Mingus Lullaby

Dane Swan, A Mingus Lullaby, Guernica Editions

Charles Mingus, the renowned musician, composer and civil rights activist, claimed to be three people, was married to one of his wives by Ginsberg, and collaborated with such luminaries as Langston Hughes and Joni Mitchell. Twelve of the poems in A Mingus Lullaby explore moments in his life, compositions, performances, or are part of a fictional conversation between Mingus and the author. Themes from his life permeate throughout the collection.

Dane Swan

Dane Swan is a Bermuda raised, Toronto based, internationally published poet, writer, and musician. His first collection, Bending the Continuum was published by Guernica Editions in 2011.  In 2013 Dane was short listed for the Monica Ladell Award for his poem Stopwatch.

Publisher link: https://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781771830478

French Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award


La mesure du temps

Jean Boisjoli, La mesure du temps, Éditions Prise de parole

Bernard is a man of the world. Now in his sixties, he returns to Saint-Boniface to get back to his roots. Accompanied by Marjolaine, a young woman who had been his protégée, he walks the streets of the town, revisiting the people, places and events that marked his extraordinary childhood. Through the stories he tells during their journey, the pair see the little Seine River and Lake Winnipeg, and meet Gabrielle Roy, Louis Riel, an Acadian sheriff, Queen Elizabeth II and a quirky Jesuit, not to mention J.D. Salinger, Malraux, and Dostoyevsky – and some beavers. Gradually, Bernard lets slip more and more intimate details that make Marjolaine see him in a whole new light. A novel rich in imagery and poetry, La mesure du temps takes the reader on a captivating dive into the human psyche.

Jean Boisjoli

Jean Boisjoli was born and raised in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba. Previously a journalist at Radio-Canada and the CBC, he later became a lawyer and served as Chief of Staff to the federal Minister responsible for Constitutional Affairs. His first foray into literature was as a poet, and he has published three well-received collections. La mesure du temps is his first novel. Jean Boisjoli lives in Ottawa. 

Publisher’s Link: http://www.prisedeparole.ca/titres-livre/?id=523

Nikolaos, le copiste

Louis L’Allier, Nikolaos, le copiste, Éditions David

The year is 1453. Constantinople is besieged by the Ottomans. In the tumult and confusion, Nikolaos, a young copyist, succeeds in slipping out of town on a secret mission. He is carrying a manuscript that will change the course of history. The indefatigable traveller accomplishes miracles of courage and self-denial in the face of desperate situations. His peregrinations lead him to encounter astonishing characters and experience the burning passion of love. Beyond despair and sadness, it drives his quest, until he ends up on the fringes of the world.

Louis L’Allier

Louis L’Allier has been an Associate Professor in the Department of Ancient Studies at Laurentian University in Sudbury since 1999. A researcher, lecturer and essayist, he is also a novelist. His first work of fiction, Les danseurs de Kamilari won the Prix Christine-Dimitriu-Van-Saanen and was short-listed for the Prix des lecteurs de Radio-Canada. Nikolaos, le copiste is his fourth novel.

Publisher’s Link: http://editionsdavid.com/products-page/nikolaos-le-copiste/

Les suicidés d’Eau-Claire

Éric Mathieu, Les suicidés d’Eau-Claire, Éditeur La Mèche

On December 22, 1992, Alain Walter, a notary in Metz, sends out the alarm: he has received a registered letter from his cousin Camille Corbin announcing her suicide and those of her husband Jean-Renaud and their daughter Sybille. After years spent abroad, the mysterious Corbin family returns home to Eau-Claire to confront its own alienation and slips into decline. Facing a dark and difficult world, the Corbins plunge deep into unhappiness, but will they come through it to find grace?

Éric Mathieu

Éric Mathieu is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ottawa, specializing in the syntax and morphology of French and Algonkian languages. He studied in France and Britain, has travelled widely, and has lived in Canada for the past twelve years. Les suicidés d’Eau-Claire is his first novel.

Publisher’s Link: http://lameche.groupecourteechelle.com/livres/les-suicides-d-eau-claire/

Cinquante ans de « p’tits bonheurs » au Théâtre français de Toronto

Paul-François Sylvestre, Cinquante ans de « p’tits bonheurs » au Théâtre français de Toronto, Éditions du Gref

The Théâtre français de Toronto (TfT) was founded in 1967 as Théâtre du P’tit Bonheur. For fifty years, TfT has been producing French repertory theatre, original Québécois and Franco-Ontarian creations, and translations from English, Russian and other languages. Audiences have ranged from adults to teens and children. The first French-language professional theatre in Ontario, TfT has survived financial crises and made an impact reaching far beyond Toronto, winning major awards, honours and distinctions. This story is told systematically and enriched by 50 personal accounts, approximately a hundred photographs, and brief descriptions of each of the 280 shows presented from 1967 to 2017.

Paul-François Sylvestre

Essayist, novelist, short-story writer and critic Paul-François Sylvestre has published more than 40 books, including ten novels and some 20 works on various aspects of Francophone Ontario. He is the author of L’Ontario français au jour le jourToronto s’écrit : la Ville Reine dans notre littératureCent ans de leadership franco-ontarien, and Toronto et sa toponymie française.

Publisher’s Link: http://avoslivres.ca/products-page/cinquante-ans-de-p-tits-bonheurs-au-theatre-francais-de/


Michèle Vinet, L’enfant-feu, Éditions Prise de parole

In Ottawa in the 1950s, the fire-child of the title marvels at her contact with words. It is the beginning of a passion that will burn inside her all her life, a passion she will spread around her. From her classroom to Europe to the ghettoes of South Carolina, the girl sets forth to meet people who are different from her, borne by a fervent commitment to the French language and a visceral need to take action. In L’enfant-feu, Michèle Vinet has delivered a spellbinding tale.

Michèle Vinet

Michèle Vinet is from Ottawa, where she still lives. Through her many years as an educator, she has pursued a parallel career in live theatre, television and film. She leads a variety of writing workshops in schools and universities as well as correctional and mental health institutions. In 2012, she won both the Trillium Award and the Prix Émile-Ollivier for her novel Jeudi NovembreL’enfant-feu is her third published book.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.prisedeparole.ca/titres-livre/?id=541

French Language Finalists for the Trillium Book Award for Children’s Literature

Ski, blanche et avalanche


Pierre-Luc Bélanger, Ski, Blanche et avalanche, Éditions David

Young Cédric Poitras has been getting into trouble non-stop since he started high school: cutting class, shoplifting and drinking for a start. It seems he will stop at nothing.

At their wits’ end, his parents send him to his paternal grandfather, who owns a ski resort in British Columbia called Mount Renard. Grandpa makes him work hard at every chore at the ski centre and forces him to spend evenings taking high school courses on the Internet.  

Soon, Cédric takes an interest, in spite of himself, in keeping the resort running successfully – and in the mysterious problems that have been cropping up lately. Aided by his friends Chuyên, Tantine Jé, Stanislas, and Blanche, the good-looking ski instructor, he helps his grandfather confront the danger lurking on the mountain.

Pierre-Luc Bélanger


Born in Ottawa, Pierre-Luc Bélanger teaches French and works on language planning for French-language secondary schools. Ski, Blanche et avalanche is his second novel published in the 14/18 collection, following 24 heures de liberté, which appeared in 2013. 

Publisher’s Link: http://editionsdavid.com/2015/10/ski-blanche-avalanche-pierre-luc-belanger/





Gilles Dubois, Nanuktalva, Éditions David

After a life filled with adventure, an old Inuit man named Nanuktalva retires to the northern Ontario town of Timmins. He befriends a five-year-old girl, and teaches her everything he knows about the challenges and mysteries of life in the North, and about wolves. Along the way, he introduces her to the customs, language and legends of his people, and even trains her in Inuit fighting styles.

But this happiness will not last. As her seventeenth birthday nears, Gaïa’s life takes a sudden turn when she is hustled off to Vancouver by an aunt with evil intentions. Determined not to stand idly by, old Nanuktalva fights with all his strength to protect Gaïa, the girl he loves like a daughter.

Gilles Dubois


Gilles Dubois has led a life full of too many places, occupations and writings to list, but he has settled down near Alexandria, in eastern Ontario, in a woodland cabin where his only companions are his animals. Here he returns to some of the themes of his successful book Akuna-Aki, meneur de chiens.

Publisher’s Link: http://editionsdavid.com/products-page/nanuktalva/  

 Zazette, la chatte des Ouendats    

Daniel Marchildon, Zazette, la chatte des Ouendats, Soulières Éditeur

Zazette is a beautiful cat living in Paris in 1623, but she is about to have her life turned upside down by a terrifying voyage. She finds herself on board a ship bound for New France. Still getting over this uprooting, she is dragged into another journey even more perilous than the first. French missionaries take Zazette on what at the time was called “Le Grand Voyage”. From the settlement at Québec, she travels by canoe to the heart of the North American continent, the land of the Wendat. These indigenous people, whom the French call the Hurons, have never seen a domestic cat before, and Zazette’s presence among them causes a great deal of commotion. But the cat has a secret she can use to help the Wendat. At the end of her first year in her adopted country, another twist will make Zazette happy. This captivating novel was inspired by true stories from the journals of Brother Gabriel Sagard.
Daniel Marchildon     

Daniel Marchildon, a Franco-Ontarian from Penetanguishene, still lives in Huronia, in the town of Lafontaine. An author and freelance writer since 1983, his published works are mainly youth novels such as La première guerre de Toronto, which won the Trillium Book Award for Children’s Literature in 2010. He has also written novels for adults, including L’eau de vie (Uisge beatha)Les géniteurs and Les exilés. His novel Les guerriers de l’eau was a finalist for the 2013 Trillium Book Award for Children’s Literature and won the 2012-2013 Prix littéraire pour la jeunesse Françoise-Lepage.

Publisher’s Link: http://www.soulieresediteur.com/argumentaires/978-2-89607-310-8_arg.pdf