and Quill & Quire Announce Finalists for 2011 First Novel Award has announced the finalists for the 36th Annual First Novel Award, a Canadian literary award that recognizes the outstanding achievement of a novelist who published his or her first novel in 2011. Last year's winner was The Rehearsal, a coming-of-age novel by twenty-something author Eleanor Catton.

“The diversity among the writers and publishers represented on this shortlist speaks to the wealth of Canadian writing talent.”

“ is honoured to support the First Novel Award, which plays an important role in furthering the careers of new Canadian novelists,” said Steve Oliver, director of “We look forward to seeing these authors follow in the footsteps of the many past First Novel Award finalists and winners who have since become some of Canada’s most notable authors.”

The five nominees for the 2011 First Novel Award, listed alphabetically by author, are:

  • The Free World by David Bezmozgis (HarperCollins Canada)
  • The Man Who Killed by Fraser Nixon (Douglas & McIntyre)
  • Autobiography of Childhood by Sina Queyras (Coach House Books)
  • Dancing Lessons by Olive Senior (Cormorant Books)
  • Touch by Alexi Zentner (Knopf Canada)

The winner will be announced in April at the annual First Novel Award event in Toronto. The winner will receive $7,500 CDN and all finalists will receive a $750 gift certificate.

“The diversity among the writers and publishers represented on this shortlist speaks to the wealth of Canadian writing talent,” said Alison Jones, publisher of Quill & Quire magazine, “The judges have a tall order in deciding on a winner.”

The finalists were selected by Stuart Woods, editor of Quill & Quire and head judge for this year’s event. Additional judges include Douglas Gibson, one of Canada’s most recognized book editors; Nathan Whitlock, culture editor at Toronto Life, among Canada’s most acclaimed publications; and Kelly Duffin, executive director of The Writers' Union of Canada.

Since 1976, the First Novel Award has launched the careers of some of Canada’s most beloved novelists. Previous winners include Michael Ondaatje (1976), Joan Barfoot (1978), Joy Kogawa (1981), W.P. Kinsella (1982), Nino Ricci (1990), Rohinton Mistry (1991), Shyam Selvadurai (1994), Anne Michaels (1996), Margaret Gibson (1997), Andre Alexis (1998), Alan R. Wilson and David Macfarlane (co-winners, 1999), Eva Stachniak (2000), Michael Redhill (2001), Mary Lawson (2002), Michel Basilières (2003), Colin McAdam (2004), Joseph Boyden (2005), Madeleine Thien (2006), Gil Adamson (2007), Joan Thomas (2008), Jessica Grant (2009) and Eleanor Catton (2010).