Skip to Main Content
EWP Logo

Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Emerging Writer Prize!

With the Emerging Writer Prize, Rakuten Kobo endeavours to raise the profiles of debut authors by recognizing exceptional books written by first-time Canadian authors in three categories: Literary Fiction, Non-Fiction, and one of three types of genre fiction: Romance, Speculative Fiction, or Mystery.

On June 22, 2023, Rakuten Kobo announced the winners of its ninth annual Emerging Writer Prize, in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Speculative Fiction, adding three new names to a growing list of celebrated writers. We invite you to get to know the winners as well as the judges who selected them.

The winners react!

The 2023 Nonfiction Winner

"Invisible Boy is an extraordinary coming of age story of being Black in a white world, living in the shadow of fundamentalist religion, surviving abuse, and deciphering the deep complexities of transracial adoption, all narrated in a singular and clear voice. Harrison Mooney captures his younger self exquisitely and it is clear he has been writing this book his entire life. Young Harrison has survival skills—he is sharply observant, funny, intelligent, and insightful—but his ultimate talent, shared with the most accomplished memoirists before him, is as a storyteller. There are no tidy conclusions to be had in life, but, as Mooney shows us, we can turn back and retread our route to explore how we came to be ourselves. I couldn't put this book down, and all I cared about was the boy at its centre and who he might become. Bravo to Harrison Mooney for writing this compelling, humorous, heartbreaking, and beautiful work."

— Emily Urquhart Author and this year's Nonfiction judge

The 2023 Nonfiction Shortlist

The 2023 Literary Fiction Winner

"Tear is a bold, unflinching bildungsroman that moves, chimera-like, between the real and the imagined; among the confusions and traumas of youth; from the humane to the monstrous. And therein author Erica McKeen accomplishes the truly remarkable. While walking in the steps of such gothic icons as Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson, McKeen manages to forge her own path: avoiding the clichéd, the gratuitous, and the overwritten to create in Tear an inventive, affecting, modern work. With assured control of her craft and respect for both her readers and her genre forebearers, McKeen writes with an originality, sophistication, and expertise well beyond her years."

— CS Richardson Novelist and this year's Literary Fiction judge

The 2023 Literary Fiction Shortlist

The 2023 Speculative Fiction Winner

“The Petting Zoos delivers exactly what many readers look for in their speculative fiction: something bracingly new, but rooted in a fundamental sense of humanity. From a somewhat salacious concept, Covert creates a story of a world reawakening after disaster, an analysis of the nature of intimacy and love, of human connection. While Lily's is a personal, sexual odyssey, the novel is expansive, finding hope in dark corners, the soul-affirming power of fresh fruit, of nature, of touch. It's a most unusual and powerful work.”

— Robert J. Wiersema, Novelist and this year's Speculative Fiction judge

The 2023 Speculative Fiction Shortlist

If you would like to be the first to know about bookish blogs, please subscribe. We promise to provided only relevant articles.