Introducing the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Winners

An author from each of the Literary Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Mystery categories has been awarded $10,000.
The Kobo Emerging Writer Prize supports debut Canadian authors by helping kick-start their careers. A winning book in each category was chosen by established and respected Canadian authors: Miriam Toews for Literary Fiction, Charlotte Gray for Non-Fiction, and Ian Hamilton for Mystery, giving the debut writers an impressive vote of confidence from those at the top of their field.

Literary Fiction Winner - Circus by Claire Battershill

Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Step right up and prepare to be dazzled by this delightful debut from Claire Battershill, a dazzling collection of award-winning stories with the emotional punch, sharp wit, and disarming charm of Rebecca Lee, Karen Russell, Neil Smith, and Jessica Grant.

As Circus transports us from a crowded airport departure lounge to the stillness of the British Museum, and from the spectacle of the Winter Olympics to the modesty of a local Miniatureland, Battershill’s radiant stories explore the often surprising things we’re willing to do for love and human connection. At once witty, tender-hearted, and profound, these stories are filled with a memorable and all-too-human cast of characters on the cusp of enormous change – whether they’re ready or not. Written in spare yet startling language, Circus is a beautiful reminder that sometimes everyday life can be the greatest show on Earth.

Judge: Miriam Toews

"Claire Battershill has a great style. She writes in a plain-spoken way, with precision and such economy, while at the very same time expertly weaving layers and more layers of depth and detail and comedy and pathos. The characters are tormented and big-hearted and odd and so finely drawn, and the sentences sing out with intelligence and confidence. We're so lucky to have this fresh, robust and utterly compelling voice in our midst."

Mystery Winner - Last of the Independents: Vancouver Noir by Sam Wiebe

Twenty-nine-year-old Michael Drayton runs a private investigation agency in Vancouver that specializes in missing persons — only, as Mike has discovered, some missing people stay with you. Still haunted by the unsolved disappearance of a young girl, Mike is hired to find the vanished son of a local junk merchant. However, he quickly discovers that the case has been damaged by a crooked private eye and dismissed by a disinterested justice system. Worse, the only viable lead involves a drug-addicted car thief with gang connections.

As the stakes rise, Mike attempts to balance his search for the junk merchant's son with a more profitable case involving a necrophile and a funeral home, while simultaneously struggling to keep a disreputable psychic from bilking the mother of a missing girl.

Judge: Ian Hamilton

"Sam Wiebe's Last of the Independents is a well-crafted homage to the age of crime noir combined with a thoroughly modern sensibility. Sam's characters were engaging and tightly drawn. His dialogue was especially effective and rang true to the ear. Lastly, his plot was well thought-out and sustained. His competition for this first Kobo Emerging Writer Award was formidable, and that is a further compliment to the quality of Sam's work."

Non-Fiction Winner - Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story by Robyn Doolittle

His drug and alcohol-fuelled antics made world headlines and engulfed a city in unprecedented controversy. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s personal and political troubles have occupied centre stage in North America’s fourth largest city since news broke that men involved in the drug trade were selling a videotape of Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine. Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle was one of three journalists to view the video and report on its contents in May 2013. Her dogged pursuit of the story has uncovered disturbing details about the mayor’s past and embroiled the Toronto police, city councillors, and ordinary citizens in a raucous debate about the future of the city.

Fast-paced and insightful, Crazy Town is a page-turning portrait of a troubled man, a formidable family and a city caught in a jaw-dropping scandal.

Judge: Charlotte Gray

"Robyn Doolittle has done an excellent job in narrating the Rob Ford story, and describing the role of an investigative reporter in today's media world. Her careful sourcing of facts, and her skill in shaping the drama, makes this much more than a barebones account of a drug-addicted local politician and his toxic family."