Nominees for NL Book Awards announced

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Telegram columnist and news editor Russell Wangersky is among the finalists for the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards.

The awards honour excellence in literary works by authors in the province.

In the Writers’ Alliance Fiction Award category, the finalists are “Strays” (Killick Press, 2013) by Ed Kavanagh; “Caught” (House of Anansi, 2013) by Lisa Moore and Wangersky for “Whirl Away” (Thomas Allen Publishers 2012).

The finalists in the Bruneau Family Children’s/Young Adult Literature Award are “The Wonderful Dogfish Racket” (Pennywell Books 2013) by Tom Dawe, illustrated by C. Anne MacLeod; “Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves” (Running the Goat Books & Broadsides 2012) by Andy Jones, with illustrations by Darka Erdelji and “Free Flight” (FriesenPress, 2012) by William Pryse-Phillips, with illustrations by C. Anne MacLeod

The winners will be announced May 27 during a ceremony at Government House.

Reading of the children’s literature award will take place on May 24 at the Rocket Room in St. John’s at 1 p.m.

Readings by finalists of the fiction award will take place on Sunday, May 25 at the Ship Pub in St. John’s at 7:30pm.

Both of the readings are free and open to the public.

This is the 18th year for the awards and the patron is Lt.-Gov.. Frank Fagan.

The awards alternate between fiction and children’s/young adult literature in even years, and non-fiction and poetry in odd years.

The winner in each category receives a cash prize of $1,500, and runners-up each receive $500.

All finalists and winners are selected by an independent panel of judges.

The following are excerpts from the judges comments:

“Strays” by Ed Kavanagh: is a collection of 10 short stories … Kavanagh’s characters inhabit the marginal edges of Newfoundland communities past and present … Kavanagh’s prose is beautiful and lucid without calling undue attention to itself; he writes with a clarity that lets character and setting shine through the words.

“Caught” by Lisa Moore: opens with David Slaney’s prison break … (and a trek that) takes him across Canada and down the Pacific Coast to Columbia - always one step ahead of Patterson, the police detective determined to put Slaney back behind bars. … The narrative alternates between these two characters both of whom are good guys … We end up rooting for both of them. … Her writing is quick, clever and insightful. Her descriptions are spot on.

“Whirl Away” by Russell Wangersky: opens with a rusty bolt let loose from the bed of a pick-up truck, hurtling towards the driver’s head as the truck crashes nose-first into an embankment. An apt opening to a collection in which sharp and telling detail cracks open every story and illuminates its depths.

“The Wonderful Dogfish Racket” by Tom Dawe: A master poet, in “The Wonderful Dogfish Racket,” Tom Dawes’ lyrical, whimsical genius is in full display. … Although rooted in a historical event, the message of community self-empowerment is timeless and global. This book is a winning blend of history and poetic excellence and will be recited for generations to come.

“Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves” by Andy Jones: The bardic, original voice of Andy Jones in another of his word perfect Jack tales gives us a world away from now, a world that celebrates Newfoundland’s sailing history, song and the art of storytelling itself. … In the Land of Thieves (is) a book that does what classics do — appeals to an audience of young and old alike.

“Free Flight” by William Pryse-Phillips: Charming, funny, whimsical, with a proverbial wink at parents and the raising of offspring. … Pryse–Phillips created an original, enchanting picture book where ultimately we are shown that freedom is as exciting as the safety of home is reassuring.

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