Sponsored by the Edmonton Public Library, the Edmonton Public Library Alberta Readers’ Choice Award is awarded annually for the best fiction or narrative non-fiction written by an Alberta author. The $10,000 award – presented annually by the Edmonton Public Library and one of Alberta’s richest literary prizes – recognized the exceptional writing talent in Alberta and encourages readers to support Alberta authors.
I considered applying to sit on the jury for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award this year, but was intimidated by the amount of reading I’d have to do. I shouldn’t have been; I’d already read five of the longlisted ten (chosen by library staff across Alberta) and of the shortlist (decided by the jury,) I’ve read three of five, and own another. Ah well. I’ll have to be satisfied with the power of my vote. Regular joes like us decide who wins, and the winner gets a novelty-sized cheque for $10,000.
The Alberta Readers’ Choice Award Final Five are:
- Almost a Great Escape by Tyler Trafford
- Come Barbarians by Todd Babiak (my review)
- Pilgrimage by Diana Davidson (my review)
- The Dilettantes by Michael Hingston (my review)
- The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea
Vote here. Voting is open for the whole month of May. Only one vote for person, so no annoying “vote everyday!” social media blitzes.
Today, I’m off to my local library branch, Jasper Place, to hear the four Edmonton-based authors read from their shortlisted books. We’ll also hear from readers, which is a cool twist! Check it out at 1:30 p.m. today, May 24th.
Last year’s winner was Frank Kimmel, for The Shore Girl, which is still on my to-review list (it’s great.) Check out Another Book Blog’s review and interview. I met Fran at a reading last year, and someone asked her what she spent that novelty-sized cheque on, which was a little rude if you ask me! Fran said she would spend it on upgrading her technology. The $10,000 prize would certainly be enough to get some sweet gear.
For me, the best Alberta book of 2013 wasn’t even on the longlist – Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist. Roost by Ali Bryan was an oversight too. I don’t know if it’s proper etiquette to say who I voted for, but I’m nosy and I want to know who you are voting for, so here goes. I voted for the book that surprised me the most and brought me the most joy as a reader: The Dilettantes.
Which book has your vote?
My rating: 4/5 stars
The Peak: a university student newspaper with a hard-hitting mix of inflammatory editorials, hastily thrown-together comics and reviews, and a news section run the only way self-taught journalists know how—sloppily.
Alex and Tracy are two of The Peak‘s editors, staring down graduation and struggling to keep the paper relevant to an increasingly indifferent student body. But trouble looms large when a big-money free daily comes to the west-coast campus, threatening to swallow what remains of their readership whole.
It’ll take the scoop of a lifetime to save their beloved campus rag. An exposé about the mysterious filmed-on-campus viral video? Some good old-fashioned libel? Or what about that fallen Hollywood star, the one who’s just announced he’s returning to Simon Fraser University to finish his degree?
I had all sorts of preconceived notions going into The Dilettantes. I thought I wouldn’t relate to it for various reasons, all of which were dumb and easily dismissed once I started reading. I think I was creating an elaborate defence mechanism, so if I didn’t like the book, I could be like “WELL it’s just because of X Y and Z” instead of having to say “I just didn’t like it,” which would be awkward because I will likely see the author at numerous literary events in Edmonton over the next few months. Luckily, I did like the book. A lot.
I thought it might be fun (…for me) to talk about all those excuses I came up with before reading the book, and how they were (mostly) overcome.
1. It’s about Millennials! Millennial are whiny and self-absorbed! I will strain something from rolling my eyes too much!
Depending who you ask, I’m a Gen-Xer by a margin of three months, or a Millennial by a margin of nine. Guess which one I choose to identify with? Yeah, I was only ten when Nevermind was released, but I spent my formative years without a cellphone or high speed internet. But here’s the thing: all “new adults” are whiny and self-absorbed. I mean, Catcher in the Rye, anyone? I wrote horrible poetry in a notebook when I was pretending to study, while these kids were probably posting to their Tumblrs or whatever. Big diff. The generational thing wasn’t an issue at all.
2. It’s about kids who actually went to class. And joined things, like newspapers. I hated those people. And also sort of regret I wasn’t one of those people. It’s complicated.
I don’t read a lot of campus novels. Maybe part of the reason is my ambivalence about my own university career. I was a great student. I just didn’t care about university, academically or socially. I didn’t make any friends. I certainly didn’t join any clubs. I went to the minimum number of classes I could get away with and didn’t contribute anything more than I had to. My energies, such as they were, were put towards clubbing and boys. This book made me feel at once nostalgic for something I never had, and relieved that I delayed the burden of giving a shit about stuff for a few more years. It also made me stop and evaluate a time in my life that was really difficult for me. When a book can make you do that, well, what more can you ask for? Continue reading
I wrote about reading local last year, and why I think it’s important. I don’t know if there’s an exceptional crop of Edmonton books out this season, or if I’m just paying more attention, but I’ve got a short list that could rival any hoity-toity book award. Here are my most anticipated #yegbooks for Fall 2013. Which ones are on your To Be Read list?
1. Love Letters to the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist
- Release date: August 3, 2013
- I received a review copy from the publisher, Linda Leith, but assure you it was my most anticipated book before that happened.
Why I want to read it:
- I love Jennifer’s blog. Every post has me nodding my head in agreement. She’s a beautiful writer.
- She got a great review in the Montreal Review of Books.
- The novel is about a happy marriage. I like to read about dysfunction so much that maybe I need to change things up.
- A personal connection. The set up is the death of the main character’s mother just before his wife gives birth. My husband lost his father just weeks before our first baby, and I didn’t deal with it very well. I’m looking forward to a fresh perspective on life and death (yep, my expectations are pretty high!) Continue reading