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Eighth Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Shortlist Announced

April 07, 2022

18 of Canada’s most compelling debut books have been selected in three genres: Nonfiction, Literary Fiction and Romance

TORONTO – April 7, 2022 – Rakuten Kobo, in search of the best books written by debut Canadian authors, today announced the shortlist for its eighth annual Kobo Emerging Writer Prize.

The award was created to bring literary recognition to Canadian talent and kick-start the careers of debut authors. A $10,000 CAD cash prize will be awarded to a book in each of three categories: Nonfiction, Literary Fiction, and a rotating Genre Fiction category, which is Romance this year. In addition, each winning author receives promotional marketing and ongoing communications support throughout 2022.

The 2022 shortlist comprises six books from each category, selected by Kobo’s team of expert booksellers, and now three bestselling Canadian author judges have the difficult task of choosing the winners: Katherine Ashenburg for Nonfiction, Heather O’Neill for Literary Fiction, and Nana Malone for Romance.

The winners will be announced June 23, 2022. Details to follow.


Literary Fiction


Full shortlist here:

Here are the judges who will choose the winning book in each category:

Katherine Ashenburg, Non-Fiction

Katherine Ashenburg is the prize-winning author of two novels, four nonfiction books and hundreds of articles on subjects that range from travel to mourning customs to architecture. Her first book, Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario, won the Ontario Historical Society’s award for best regional history. Her second book, The Mourner’s Dance: What We Do When People Die, was a finalist for two important prizes. Her third book, The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, is a spirited chronicle of the West’s ambivalent relationship with the washed and unwashed body, which has been published in a dozen countries and in six languages. The Independent newspaper found it one of the best history books in its year of publication, and the New York Public Library called it one of 25 Books to Remember. In Katherine’s newest book, Her Turn, Liz finds her tidy life overturned when the woman now married to her ex-husband submits a personal essay to the newspaper column Liz edits; Elizabeth Renzetti writes of it, “It is infused with the joyful spirit of Nora Ephron and lit with a charm all its own.”

Heather O’Neill, Literary Fiction

Heather O’Neill is a novelist, short-story writer and essayist. Her latest novel, When We Lost Our Heads was released earlier this year. Her previous novel The Lonely Hearts Hotel won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and CBC’s Canada Reads. Her earlier work, which includes Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Daydreams of Angels, has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize two years in a row. She has won CBC’s Canada Reads, and the Danuta Gleed Award. Born and raised in Montreal, O’Neill lives there with her daughter.

Nana Malone, Genre Fiction (Romance)

Nana’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense she borrowed from her cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick-butt heroines ever since. Her books include Kobo Original The Spy in 3B, an action-packed, sexy romp for anyone who ever wondered what really happens behind closed doors; The Assassin in 5F, the sexy, gripping conclusion to The Covet Affairs duet; To Catch a Thief, the only thing more dangerous than kissing the enemy… is sleeping with the enemy. While she works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick-butt as she thinks she is. Though, until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find her acting out scenes for hubby and puppy while catching up on her favorite reality television shows in sunny San Diego.


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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