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Finalists – 2024 Trillium Book Award

Trillium Bool Award Finalists 2024

English Language Finalists – Trillium Book Award

Sleep is Now a Foreign Country: Encounters with the Uncanny

Mike Barnes, Sleep is Now a Foreign Country: Encounters with the Uncanny, Biblioasis

A poet recounts his experience with madness and explores the relationship between apprehension and imagination.

In the summer of 1977, standing on a roadside somewhere between Dachau and Munich, twenty-two-year-old Mike Barnes experienced the dawning of the psychic break he’d been anticipating almost all his life. “Times over the years when I have tried to describe what followed,” he writes of that moment, “it has always come out wrong.” In this finely wrought, deeply intelligent memoir of madness, its antecedents and its aftermath, Barnes reconstructs instead what led him to that moment and offers with his characteristic generosity and candor the captivating account of a mind restlessly aware of itself.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of twelve books of poetry, short fiction, novels, and memoir. He has won the Danuta Gleed Award and a National Magazine Award Silver Medal for his short fiction, and the Edna Staebler Award for his photo-and-text essay “Asylum Walk.” His most recent book of nonfiction, Be With: Letters to a Caregiver, was a finalist for the City of Toronto Book Award and has been praised by Margaret Atwood as “Timely, lyrical, tough, accurate.” He lives in Toronto.

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The Clarion

Nina Dunic, The Clarion, Invisible Publishing

“We all lined up for our whipping by the shouting beauty and tender traumas of life. All of us so sensitive, and now this beautiful girl, with soft brown hair that was shot with gold in the sun. Another one of us starting to stumble.”

Peter plays the trumpet and works in a kitchen; Stasi tries to climb the corporate ladder and lands in therapy. These sensitive siblings struggle to find their place in the world, seeking intimacy and belonging—or trying to escape it.

A promising audition, a lost promotion, intriguing strangers and a silent lover—in rich, sensual scenes and moody brilliance, The Clarion explores rituals of connection and belonging, themes of intimacy and performance, and how far we wander to find, or lose, our sense of self.

Following the literary realist traditions of Mavis Gallant and Alice Munro, Dunic’s debut novel captures the vague if hopeful melancholy of any generation that believes it was never “called” to something great.

Nina Dunic

Nina Dunic is a two-time winner of the Toronto Star Short Story Contest, has been longlisted by the CBC Short Story Prize four times, and was nominated for The Journey Prize. CBC Books named Dunic in its 2023 Writers to Watch list. Her debut novel The Clarion (Invisible Publishing) was longlisted for the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was selected as Best Canadian Debut by Apple Books. She has a forthcoming collection of short stories with Invisible Publishing in 2025. Nina lives in Scarborough, ON.

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North of Middle Island

Daniel A. Lockhart, North of Middle Island, Kegedonce Press

North of Middle Island journeys to the southernmost tip of the territories held by Canada. The first section of the book captures, in verse, the spirit of the relatively isolated, sparsely populated community of Pelee Island. The pieces explore contemporary Indigenous experience in the natural and built environments of the island and surrounding waters.

The second section is comprised of an epic poem entitled “Piper” that tells, in traditional Anglo-Saxon style, a new Lenape myth of how Deerwoman (Ahtuhxkwe) comes to Pelee Island. The events of this epic tale are loosely based on the infamous professional wrestler and actor Rowdy Roddy Piper’s time on the island, and the events of Wrestlemania XII, Piper’s notorious “Backlot Brawl” with fellow wrestler Goldust (Nkuli Punkw).

Follow acclaimed Moravian of the Thames First Nation poet D.A. Lockhart on this lyrical, epic journey into the unique culture and landscapes that lie just North of Middle Island.

Daniel A. Lockhart

D.A. Lockhart is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Devil in the Woods (Brick Books 2019) and Tukhone: Where the River Narrows and the Shores Bend (Black Moss Press 2020). His work has appeared in Best Canadian Poetry in English 2019, TriQuarterly, ARC Poetry Magazine, Grain, Belt, and the Malahat Review among many. He is a Turtle Clan member of Eelünaapéewi Lahkéewiit (Lenape), a registered member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and currently resides at the south shore of Waawiiyaatanong (Windsor,ON-Detroit, MI) and Pelee Island.

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Kathryn Mockler, Anecdotes, Book*hug Press

With dreamlike stories and dark humour, Anecdotes is a hybrid collection in four parts examining the pressing realities of sexual violence, abuse, and environmental collapse.

Absurdist flash fictions in “The Boy is Dead” depict characters such as a park that hates hippies, squirrels, and unhappy parents; a woman lamenting a stolen laptop the day the world ends; and birds slamming into glass buildings.

“We’re Not Here to Talk About Aliens” gathers autofictions that follow a young protagonist from childhood to early 20s, through the murky undercurrent of potential violence amidst sexual awakening, from first periods to flashers, sticker books to maxi pad art, acid trips to blackouts, and creepy professors to close calls.

“This Isn’t a Conversation” shares one-liners from overheard conversations, found texts, diary entries, and random thoughts: many are responses to the absurdity and pain of the current political and environmental climate.

In “My Dream House,” the past and the future are personified as various incarnations in relationships to one another (lovers, a parent and child, siblings, friends), all engaged in ongoing conflict.

These varied, immersive works bristle with truth in the face of unprecedented change. They are playful forms for serious times.

Kathryn Mockler

Kathryn Mockler is the author of five books of poetry. She co-edited the print anthology Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis (2020) and is the publisher of the Watch Your Head website. She runs Send My Love to Anyone, a literary newsletter, and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria where she teaches screenwriting and fiction.

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River Mumma

Zalika Reid-Benta, River Mumma, Penguin Canada (Penguin Random House Canada)

Issa Rae's Insecure with a magical realist spin: River Mumma is an exhilarating contemporary fantasy novel about a young Black woman who navigates her quarter-life-crisis while embarking on a mythical quest through the streets of Toronto.

Alicia has been out of grad school for months. She has no career prospects and lives with her mom, who won’t stop texting her macabre news stories and reminders to pick up items from the grocery store.

Then, one evening, the Jamaican water deity, River Mumma, appears to Alicia, telling her that she has twenty-four hours to scour the city for her missing comb.

Zalika Reid-Benta

Zalika Reid-Benta is a Toronto-based writer whose debut story collection, Frying Plantain, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Literary Fiction. Frying Plantain was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and it was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award, the White Pine Award, and the Trillium Book Award. Zalika served as the 2021-2022 Writer in Residence at Western University and was the chair of the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She received an M.F.A. in fiction from Columbia University, was a John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and is an alumnus of the Banff Centre Writing Studio.

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English Language Finalists - Trillium Book Award For Poetry

Wires that Sputter

Britta Badour, Wires that Sputter, McClelland & Stewart (Penguin Random House Canada)

A powerful debut collection from an award-winning artist, public speaker, and poet.

With propulsive, intimate stylings and an eye toward Black liberations, pop culture, sports, and familial fractures, Wires that Sputter meets the world with the posture of a portraitist and the deftness of a poet-as-acrobat, as seeker. Here in these wondrous poems is an attentiveness toward that which harrows as well as that which heals, toward the power of space-giving and fragmentation. Rupture and recovery, tribute and tribulation, a revivifying musicality, and room to breathe—all dapple these pages, where electricity manifests in every line.

Britta Badour

Britta Badour, better known as Britta B., is an award-winning artist, public speaker, and poet living in Toronto. She is the recipient of the Breakthrough Artist Award (Toronto Arts Foundation, 2021) and Lecturer of the Year (COCA, 2021). Britta holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph and teaches spoken word performance at Seneca College.

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Continuity Errors

Catriona Wright, Continuity Errors, Coach House Books

Feminist poems both serious and absurd that question our obsession with productivity instead of with care.

Continuity Errors questions the privileging of work and productivity over rest and care from an ecological and feminist perspective. Written before and immediately after the birth of her first child, these poems try to imagine the future her son will inherit. Encounters with an unusual cast of characters – including lonely cryptids, unrepentant grifters, and persistent ghosts – provide incomplete answers, and while the continuity errors keep multiplying around her, Wright pauses to consider whether our devotion to innovation is keeping us stuck.

Catriona Wright

Catriona Wright is the author of the poetry collection Table Manners and the short story collection Difficult People. Her poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, The Walrus, and Magma, and they have been anthologized in The Next Wave: An Anthology of 21st Century Canadian Poetry and in Best Canadian Poetry 2015 and 2018.

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More Sure

A. Light Zachary, More Sure, Arsenal Pulp Press

A book of poems and interruptions, recording instances of love, self-realization, and recovery in non-binary, queer, and autistic lives.

In their stunning debut collection, A. Light Zachary draws power from a vision of life - especially queer and neurodivergent life - as a journey of continuous self-realization. These poems record the experience of locating oneself over and over again, within gender, language, family, labour, sexuality, fear, and love.

Reaching back to claim queer space in the oldest Western canon, Zachary interrupts famous quotations from ancient Greek and Roman thinkers, asking: what advice might Juvenal or Seneca have handed down to non-binary citizens? Elsewhere, in concise and fluid verses that draw from punk rock and quantum physics, they ground the work firmly in the present. Come: invade with the alien. Evade with the coyote. These poems propose a certain supremacy: in these unending journeys of discovery and alienation, "we become more sure of who we are than you."

A. Light Zachary

A. Light Zachary is a writer, editor, and artist who was recently awarded fellowships for their poetry by the Lambda Literary Foundation and the Banff Centre for the Arts. Their previous publications include the novella The End, by Anna (Metatron, 2016). More Sure is their first book of poems. Light lives in Toronto.

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French-language Finalists – Trillium Book Award

La fin de nos programmes

Martin Bélanger, La fin de nos programmes - Del Busso éditeur

“Half my waking hours are spent listening to the radio. Wireless headphones stuck in one or both ears, speakers in my living room or in the car, everywhere. I owe this faithful relationship to tinnitus and my mother. Both have been far too big a part of my life.”

Friendship, radio, winter, radio, funeral, radio, work, radio, love at first sight, expectations, radio, love, nostalgia, radio. Vincent is forty-two years old. He’s a radio junkie and works a white-collar job for the City as a professional apologist. Shaken by the recent death of his father, he thinks it might be time to move on to the next episode.

Martin Bélanger

After studying music, Martin Bélanger pursued a career as an advertising designer. La fin de nos programmes is his debut novel.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

Plonge, Freya, vole!Andrée Christensen, Plonge, Freya, vole!,  Les Éditions David

In a series of dreamlike tales rooted in the myths of Nordic civilizations, Freya, a character who disappeared prematurely from the pages of the novel Depuis toujours, j’entendais la mer (David, 2006), reappears and draws us into the vertigo of her many transformations, starting with her gestation in the darkness of the ocean.

Freya emerges in a strange village called Anse aux narvals, shaped by ice and volcanoes, where dreams and reality intertwine and extend into rituals in deep harmony with nature. She learns about the secret truth hidden within the wildlife, stones and dye plants, and discovers the power of names and the blue colour of her destiny. A mysterious bird of prey follows her on her journey. Upon contact with it, she is propelled into an ultimate metamorphosis that will lead her to solve the mystery of her true identity.

With its spellbinding writing and the author’s luminous hand-crafted visuals, Plonge, Freya, vole! is a book beyond classification that reads like a novel but can be savoured like a long poem.

Andrée Christensen

Poet, novelist and visual artist Andrée Christensen has published over twenty-five titles, some of which have been translated into English and Romanian. Her debut novel, Depuis toujours, j’entendais la mer, won the Ottawa Book Award, the Prix Le Droit, the Prix littéraire Émile-Ollivier and the Prix Christine Dimitriu-Van-Saanen. The author has also produced five artists’ books based on her collections, in collaboration with visual artists from Ontario and Quebec.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

David Ménard, L’aurore martyrise l’enfant, Éditions L'Interligne

Marie-Anne Houde, the slattern of Sainte-Sophie, awaits death in her “dying room” in Montréal; she writes to Télesphore, her old flame who didn’t always share her feelings. Through a dual timeline, the reader is taken back to Marie-Anne’s youth and the challenges she had to overcome before doing the unforgivable.

Marie-Anne Houde is considered one of Canada’s most heinous criminals, having killed her stepdaughter Aurore Gagnon. Her crime is one of the worst cases of child abuse known to date in this country. This novel is loosely based on her story.

David Ménard holds a degree in French literature from the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Arts. He is the recipient of the French-language Trillium Book Award for Poetry for his collection Neuvaines (2016).

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

Le parfum de la baleinePaul Ruban, Le parfum de la baleine,  Flammarion Québec

A couple tries to rekindle their romance with a stay at a luxury all-inclusive resort. But Judith and Hugo’s vacation is soon ruined when a blue whale washes up on the beach. The rotting carcass emits a nauseating odour that the tropical breeze carries straight to the tourists’ nostrils. The stench becomes entangled with different fates and permeates them. And the longer it lingers in the air, the more the illusion of paradise is dispelled.

In this olfactory novel with allegorical overtones, Paul Ruban probes, with humor and tenderness, the malaise that creeps in and grows until it becomes impossible to conceal.

Paul Ruban

Born in Winnipeg and raised in Ottawa, Paul Ruban is a French-language author, screenwriter and literary translator. Crevaison en corbillard, his debut collection of short stories, received the 2020 Trillium Book Award. He was a finalist for the 2022 John Glassco Prize for his translation of Coconut Dreams by Derek Mascarenhas. English translations of his writing have appeared in The Malahat Review and The New Quarterly. He splits his time between Canada and Germany.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]:

Vivre ou presqueNicolas Weinberg, Vivre ou presque,  Éditions L'Interligne

Good stories are often an invitation to escape, to embark on an inner journey, but they don’t always turn out as expected and even more rarely end as planned. The same is true of existence, which surprises, amazes, disappoints and sometimes terrifies us but always goes beyond us. For Nicolas Weinberg, “to write is to experience reality intensely,” and his stories show that this intensity can be passed on to others. They show that to read is to live (or very nearly to live).

Vivre ou presque is a collection of seven stand-alone short stories with a common theme: the difficulty of existing.

Nicolas Weinberg

Born first in Paris in 1967 and again in Marseille in 1998, Nicolas Weinberg came of age in Canada, where he has lived since 2006 and works as a translator.

Link to publisher’s website [French only]: