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Inaugural Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Winners Announced

July 07, 2015

Toronto, ONJuly 7, 2015 – Kobo, a Rakuten company and leading innovator in the digital reading space, today announced the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize winners, all of whom have been awarded a $10,000 CAD cash prize as well as promotional, marketing, and communications support to help kick-start their budding careers.

Winner of the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize - Literary Fiction:

The Literary Fiction prize has been awarded to Claire Battershill for Circus, published by McClelland & Stewart.

About the book: This delightful debut collection of award-winning stories 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, all exploring the often surprising things we’re willing to do for love and human connection.

Miriam Toews, Author and Literary Fiction Judge, says of Circus:

“Claire Battershill has a great style. It's amazing what she can do, and so artful. 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.”

Winner of the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize – Genre Fiction (Mystery)

The Mystery prize has been awarded to Sam Wiebe for Last of the Independents: Vancouver Noir, published by Dundurn.

About the book: 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.

Ian Hamilton, Author and Mystery Judge, says of Last of the Independents:

“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."

Winner of the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, Non-fiction

The Non-Fiction prize has been awarded to Robyn Doolittle for Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, published by Penguin Canada.

About the book: 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. Robyn Doolittle’s dogged pursuit of the story has uncovered disturbing details about the mayor’s past and embroiled the Toronto police, city councilors, and ordinary citizens in a raucous debate about the future of the city.

Charlotte Gray, Author and Non-Fiction Judge, says of Crazy Town:

"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."

More about the prize

The winners were selected among a shortlist of talented Canadian authors, chosen by Kobo’s team of booksellers, with book completion rates, customer ratings and reviews taken into consideration.

Shortlist (announced May 20, 2015):


  • Know the Night: A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours by Maria Mutch – Knopf Canada
  • Irresponsible Government: The Decline of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada by Brent Rathgeber – Dundurn
  • Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story by Robyn Doolittle – Penguin Canada
  • They Left Us Everything: A Memoir by Plum Johnson – Penguin Canada
  • Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz – HarperCollins Canada

Literary Fiction

  • Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti – House of Anansi Press
  • Family Business by Renny deGroot – Self-Published
  • For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu – HarperCollins Canada
  • Fire In The Unnameable Country by Ghalib Islam – Penguin Canada
  • Circus by Claire Battershill – McClelland & Stewart

Fiction (Mystery)

  • A Quiet Kill: A Forsyth and Hay Mystery by Janet Brons – Touchwood Editions
  • The Monarch: A Thriller by Jack Soren – HarperCollins
  • Cipher by John Jantunen – ECW Press
  • A Siege of Bitterns: A Birder Murder Mystery by Steve Burrows – Dundurn
  • Last of the Independents: Vancouver Noir by Sam Wiebe – Dundurn

The Kobo Emerging Writer prize is eligible to Canadian residents who published debut books during the 2014 calendar year in the categories of Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction (Mystery this year; a different genre will be highlighted each year), or Non-Fiction. All submitted books must be available at

For more details:

About Rakuten Kobo Inc.
Rakuten Kobo Inc. is one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services offering more than 4.7 million eBooks and magazines to millions of customers in 190 countries. Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo provides consumers with a choice when reading. Kobo offers an eReader for everyone with a wide variety of E Ink eReaders and Google-Certified Android tablets to suit any Reader’s style including the award-winning Kobo Touch™, Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura H2O, Kobo Aura HD, Kobo Arc, Kobo Arc 7, Kobo Arc 7HD, Kobo Arc 10HD – and the newly launched Kobo Glo HD. Along with the company’s free top-ranking eReading apps for Apple®, BlackBerry®, Android®, and Windows®, Kobo ensures the next great read is just a page-turn away. Headquartered in Toronto and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten, Kobo eReaders can be found in major retail chains around the world. For more information, visit


Media Contact

René d’Entremont

Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Senior PR Manager

416.977.8737 x 3587

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