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Ninth Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Shortlist Announced

April 17, 2023

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

APRIL 17, 2023 - Rakuten Kobo, in search of the best books written by debut Canadian authors, today announced the shortlist for its ninth 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 for a book published in 2022 in each of three categories: Nonfiction, Literary Fiction and a rotating Genre Fiction category, which is Speculative Fiction this year and will for the first time consider debut books from 2021 and 2020 as well, since the last time the prize focused on this genre. In addition, each winning author receives promotional, marketing and ongoing communications support throughout 2023.

The 2023 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: Emily Urquhart for Nonfiction, CS Richardson for Literary Fiction, and Robert J Wiersema for Speculative Fiction.

The winners will be announced June 22, 2023. Details to follow.


Literary Fiction

Speculative Fiction

  • Radium Girl by by Sofi Papamarko, published by Buckrider Books
  • Satellite Love by Genki Ferguson, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • In Veritas by C.J. Lavigne, published by NeWest Press

Full shortlist here:

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

Emily Urquhart, Non-Fiction

Emily Urquhart is a journalist with a doctorate in folklore. Her award-winning longform nonfiction has appeared in Guernica, Longreads and The Walrus among other publications. She is the author of Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes, a Kobo First Book Prize nominee, as well as the memoir The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father and Me, which was listed as a top book of 2020 by CBC, NOW Magazine and Quill & Quire. She has taught creative writing at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo and is a nonfiction editor with The New Quarterly. Her essay collection, Ordinary Wonder Tales, was published in Fall 2022.

CS Richardson, Literary Fiction

CS Richardson’s first novel, The End of the Alphabet, was an international bestseller, published in fourteen countries and ten languages, and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Canada and the Caribbean). His second novel, The Emperor of Paris, was a national bestseller, named a Globe and Mail Best Book of the year, and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His newest novel, All the Colour in the World, tells the story of the restorative power of art in one man’s life, set against the sweep of the twentieth century—from Toronto in the ‘20s and ‘30s, through the killing fields of World War II, to 1960s Sicily. An award-winning book designer, CS Richardson worked in publishing for forty years. He is a multiple recipient of the Alcuin Award, Canada's highest honour for excellence in book design. He lives and writes in Toronto.

Robert J Wiersema, Genre Fiction (Speculative Fiction)

Robert J Wiersema is the bestselling author of Before I Wake, Bedtime Story, and four other books. One of Canada’s foremost writers on books, his reviews appear regularly in the Toronto Star, Quill & Quire and other publications, and his Beyond the Bestseller column is featured biweekly on CBC Radio. Born and raised in the Fraser Valley, a couple of hours outside of Vancouver, Wiersema now lives in Victoria, BC. He is a professor of Creative Writing at Vancouver Island University and teaches his own private writing program.

Get to know the 2023 judging panel here.


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

Media Contact

Erin Ierullo 
Senior Manager, Global Communications 
[email protected]

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