So living in Alberta has led me to develop a fierce loyalty to AB authors and their books. I’m also aware that prairie literature doesn’t get the attention it deserves, as Ontario and BC authors are typically on Can-Lit’s radar more than the remaining provinces. This isn’t really a fair observation to make, but it’s one that I’m going to allow myself to do here, especially because I grew up in Ontario, and worked in the publishing industry in Toronto for a short time.
Why don’t we hear about Alberta authors more often? The most obvious of reasons is that there are simply more authors in the more heavily populated provinces so it makes logical sense that we would hear more about them. However, another big part of this is due to the fact that Alberta doesn’t have many publishers either, so the publishing ‘epi-centre’ of Canada is focused mainly in Toronto. This is all to say that when an award for an Alberta author is created or distributed I take notice.
Some may be aware that the Alberta writer and poet Robert Kroetsch died tragically in 2011 in a car accident. He was a great man with an amazing writing legacy that is sure to live on for many years, so in some ways, we can still look to his name as a beacon of hope in the Alberta writing community. The City of Edmonton Book Award was created in 1995 by Edmonton city council, well before Kroetsch’s passing, and was re-named in his honour shortly after he died. The prize is $10,000, which would be a nice addition to anyone’s annual income, especially a writer’s!
The winning book must be written by an Edmonton author, or deal with the city in some form or fashion. As you can see the restrictions are quite loose, but this lends itself to a varied and exciting list of nominated books, so it’s smart to create an award this way. The next winner will be announced on April 28 in (duh) Edmonton.
The 2014 nominees are as follows: Tim Bowling (Selected Poems, Nightwood Editions), Nellie Carlson, Kathleen Steinhauer, Linda Goyette (Disinherited Generations: Our Struggle to Reclaim Treaty Rights for First Nations Women and their Descendants, University of Alberta Press), and Lynn Coady (Hellgoing, House of Anansi Press). You can learn more about the award and other Alberta authors on the Writers Guild of Alberta website.
If you’re interested in reading some more books by Alberta authors, I’ve got reviews here, here and here to get you started. If you’re an Alberta author and would like me to review your book, please get in contact with me; I walk the walk and talk the talk!