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2022 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Winners Announced

June 23, 2022

Canada’s best debut books in Nonfiction, Literary Fiction, and Romance have been chosen

TORONTO, ONJune 23, 2022 - Today, Rakuten Kobo announced the winners of its eighth annual Emerging Writer Prize, adding three new Canadian authors to its growing list of celebrated writers. Debut authors in Non-fiction, Literary Fiction, and Romance each were awarded a $10,000 CAD cash prize, and will receive promotional, marketing, and communications support from Rakuten Kobo throughout the year and beyond, to help get them succeed further in the world of publishing.

“In a world where everything and everyone is shouting for attention, it has never been more challenging for new authors to launch their careers,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO of Rakuten Kobo. “Kobo is passionately committed to helping authors like this year’s exceptional winners find their audiences and share their stories.”

Nonfiction Winner

The Nonfiction prize has been awarded to Jesse Wente for Unreconciled, published by Penguin Canada.

About the book: Part memoir and part manifesto, Unreconciled is a stirring call to arms to put truth over the flawed concept of reconciliation, and to build a new, respectful relationship between the nation of Canada and Indigenous peoples.

Author Katherine Ashenburg, this year’s Non-fiction judge, said of the book:

“Deftly weaving together memoir and essays on topics that range from police power to cultural appropriation, he builds a devastating but convincing critique of Canada’s shameful relationship with Indigenous people. There is anger in this book, but justified anger, as well as humour and hope.

Wente titles his book “Unreconciled” because, as he writes, reconciliation is only possible when there has been a relationship. In his telling, Canada and its Indigenous people have never had a true relationship, and Unreconciled is a challenge to create that connection for the first time. Non-indigenous readers of this book may disagree with individual points, but most will never look at Canada the same way again.”

Literary Fiction Winner

The Literary Fiction prize has been awarded to Pik-Shuen Fung for Ghost Forest, published by McClelland & Stewart.

About the book: Buoyant, heartbreaking, and unexpectedly funny, Ghost Forest is a slim novel that envelops the reader in joy and sorrow. Fung writes with a poetic and haunting voice, weaving memory and oral history to paint a moving portrait of a Chinese-Canadian astronaut family.

Author Heather O’Neill, this year’s Literary Fiction judge, said of the book:

“An exquisite novel about a woman in an ‘astronaut family’ – one in which the mother and children immigrated to Vancouver, while the father stayed behind to work in Hong Kong. In this story, the narrator has to grieve the death of her father, after only spending time with him sporadically throughout her life. The preciseness of the imagery and emotions in the novel is astounding and each paragraph has the beauty and visceral evocation of a poem. We learn about the quiet customs of a Hong Kong death ceremony, the ways in which parents sacrifice their lives for their children, and the quiet devastation love has when we hold it in our hands and look at it closely. A beautiful revelation by a writer whose razor-sharp skills will take her to great places.”

Romance Winner

The Romance prize has been awarded to Damhnait Monoghan for New Girl in Little Cove, published by HarperCollins Canada.

About the book: When a new teacher arrives in a tiny fishing village, she realizes the most important lessons are the ones she learns outside the classroom.

Author Nana Malone, this year’s Romance judge, said of the book:

“Little Cove is the quintessential small town no reader will want to leave. Newfoundland’s rich history is present in the delightful Irish-Catholic dialect, dry wit, and poker-faced slow burn of a romance that thoroughly satisfies. If you’ve ever longed for the Derry Girls to grow up and fall in love, gentle Jaysus in the garden, you’ll love this book.”

More about the prize

The Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize is now in its eighth year. The winners were selected from a shortlist of talented Canadian writers chosen by Kobo’s team of booksellers, with book completion rates, customer ratings, and reviews taken into consideration.

The 2022 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Shortlist


Literary Fiction


To be eligible for the 2022 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, entrants must be Canadian citizens or legal residents of Canada who published debut books during the 2021 calendar year in the categories of Non-fiction, Literary Fiction, or Genre Fiction (the genre this year is Romance; each year, a different genre is chosen). All submitted books must be available at


About Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Rakuten Kobo Inc. is the world’s digital bookseller created by and for booklovers. Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten Group, Inc. and headquartered in Toronto, Rakuten Kobo’s millions of worldwide users can read anytime, anywhere, and on any device. With a mission to make reading lives better for all, Rakuten Kobo connects readers to stories using thoughtful and personalized curation of eBooks and audiobooks, and the best dedicated eReaders and apps for reading. With the singular focus of making reading lives the best they can be, Kobo’s open platform allows people to fit reading into more moments in their busy lives.

To learn more about Rakuten Kobo, visit

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