is proud to present the First Novel Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievement of a Canadian first-time novelist. Since 1976, the First Novel Award has launched the careers of some of Canada's most beloved novelists, including Michael Ondaatje, Joan Barfoot, Joy Kogawa, W.P. Kinsella, Nino Ricci, Rohinton Mistry, Anne Michaels, André Alexis, Michael Redhill, Mary Lawson, Colin McAdam, Joseph Boyden, Joan Thomas, and David Bezmozgis.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Submissions for the 2015 award are now closed.

2015 Shortlist

Alix Hawley

Alix Hawley is the author of the short-story collection The Old Familiar (Thistledown Press, 2008), and her work has won multiple accolades from CBC's Canada Writes competition. Knopf Canada published her debut novel, All True Not a Lie in It, as part of the 2015 New Face of Fiction program. She lives in Kelowna, British Columbia.

From head judge Nick Mount:

A book of great sympathy and sadness. Hawley's intimate version of Daniel Boone is a wonderful character, intelligent and self-aware, even if he can't stop himself from being himself.

All True Not a Lie in It (Knopf Canada)

Set during the American Revolutionary War, All True Not a Lie in It tells the story of folk hero and pioneer Daniel Boone, in his own voice. Boone recounts his childhood in a Quaker colony, his capture, and eventual adoption, by the Shawnee, and his personal triumphs and tragedies.

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Emma Hooper

Emma Hooper is an author, musician, and academic. Raised in Alberta, she brought her love of music and literature to the UK, where she received a doctorate in musico-literary studies at the University of East Anglia and currently lectures at Bath Spa University. Emma performs under the name Waitress for the Bees and also plays with a number of bands. In 2015, Hamish Hamilton published her first novel, Etta and Otto and Russell and James. She lives in Bath, UK.

From head judge Nick Mount:

Eighty-two-year-old Etta sets out to walk from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic with a coyote and her disappearing memories for company. A sweet, magical novel that reads like a symphony.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James (Hamish Hamilton)

Early one morning, eighty-two-year-old Etta takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots and begins walking the 3,232 kilometres from Saskatchewan to Halifax. Her husband, Otto, wakes to a note left on the kitchen table. As Etta walks toward the ocean, she is accompanied by James (a coyote) and followed by Russell, who has loved her from afar for sixty years.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James moves from a past filled with hunger, war, passion, and hope to a present of quiet industry and peaceful communion, from trying to remember to trying to forget.

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Sean Michaels

Sean Michaels was born in Stirling, Scotland; raised in Ottawa; and currently lives in Montreal. He is the founder of Said the Gramophone, one of the earliest music blogs. He has written for the Guardian and McSweeney's and is the recipient of two National Magazine Awards. Michaels' debut novel, Us Conductors, won the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

From head judge Nick Mount:

A Russian inventor comes to New York in the 1920s, falls in love, and becomes a reluctant spy. The writing is as exciting as the story, alive and vital.

Us Conductors (Random House Canada)

Us Conductors is a fictionalized account of the life of Lev Termen, the famed Russian inventor and spy who patented the theremin in the 1920s. Imprisoned in a ship's cabin on a transatlantic journey to Leningrad, he writes a letter to his "one true love," Clara, recalling his early years as a scientist, inventing the theremin and other electric marvels, and the Kremlin's dream that these inventions could be used to infiltrate capitalism itself. Instead, New York infiltrated Termen: he fell in love with the city's dance clubs and speakeasies, with the students learning his strange instrument, and with Clara, a beautiful young violinist.

Us Conductors is a book of longing, electricity, and looping heartbreak, told in the voice of one of the twentieth century's most fascinating figures.

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Guillaume Morissette

Guillaume Morissette is the author of the short-story and poetry collection I Am My Own Betrayal (Maison Kasini, 2012), and the debut novel New Tab, which was shortlisted for the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. Morissette's work has appeared in Maisonneuve, Little Brother, Electric Literature, and other publications. He is the co-editor of Metatron, a small press based in Montreal.

From head judge Nick Mount:

Twenty-seven-year-old Thomas hasn't had sex in so long, his sex life has abandonment issues. A sharp, insightful glimpse of life here and now, from a genuinely new voice.

New Tab (Esplanade Books)

Set in Montreal, New Tab spans a year in the world of a twenty-six-year-old video game designer as he attempts to reset his life. It's a sharp, funny story of disillusionment, boredom, self-destruction, Facebook chats, bilingualism, good parties, bad parties, ambiguous relationships, a backyard cinema, social anxiety, and a possibly illegal DIY venue.

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Chelsea Rooney

Chelsea Rooney grew up in the Annapolis Valley and lives in Vancouver. She hosts a monthly episode of The Storytelling Show on Vancouver Co-Op Radio and is a regular contributor to Project Space's web series on artist publishing. In 2014, Caitlin Press released her debut novel, Pedal, which Quill and Quire chose as a favourite first novel and Canada's book blog 49th Shelf chose as a book of the year.

From head judge Nick Mount:

A romance on two wheels, Pedal will surprise you, possibly disturb you, and certainly give you lots to think and talk about. A brave novel by a smart new writer.

Pedal (Caitlin Press)

Pedal follows Julia Hoop, a counselling-psychology student researching childhood sexual abuse. When both her boyfriend and her graduate advisor break up with her on the same day, Julia leaves Vancouver on a bicycle for a cross-Canada trip in search of her father. Her unexpected travel partner is Smirks, a handsome athlete with a complicated history.

Pedal explores how we are shaped by accidents of timing, trauma and sex, brain chemistry, and the landscape of our country, and it challenges beliefs we hold dear about pedophilia, innocence, and the notion that the past is something one runs from.

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