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Second Annual Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Winners Announced

June 21, 2016

Toronto, ONJune 21, 2016 – Rakuten Kobo today announced the best debut Canadian authors who have been selected as this year’s Emerging Writer Prize recipients. A winner in each of the Literary Fiction, Romance, and Non-Fiction categories has been awarded a $10,000 CAD cash prize as well as promotional, marketing, and communications support to help support their burgeoning careers.

Winners of the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize

The Literary Fiction prize has been awarded to Irina Kovalyova for Specimen, published by House of Anansi Press.

About the book: The stories in Specimen are a unique exploration of science and the human heart; the place where physical reality collides with our spiritual and emotional lives.

Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Author and Literary Fiction Judge, says: “I was entranced with Specimen. Irina Kovalyova is a magician who, with a nudge and a wink, makes us laugh in awe and recognition at each new trick. As at home in the experimental story as in a traditional narrative, she tackles the ordinary, the bizarre and the taboo with equal assuredness. Reading Kovalyova’s magical stories, I again felt that numinous, giddy joy I first experienced as a young writer discovering the endless possibilities found in narrative form.”

The Romance prize has been awarded to Nicola R. White for Fury’s Kiss, Strange Roads Press/Self-Published.

About the book: Tara Walker dreams of more excitement than slinging plates of seafood for Cape Cod tourists. Faced with strange new powers and embroiled in a murder investigation, Tara must now race to uncover the secrets of the ancient Fury that has woken inside of her - and of the evil that stalks her.

Lynsay Sands, Author and Romance Judge, says: “The idea behind the story was definitely original and Ms. White is a natural storyteller. Her writing flows smoothly, quickly drawing the reader into the world she’s created, and then keeps them there with high doses of action, suspense, and of course romance. Her female lead is strong but still relatable. However, her secondary characters really added to the story, giving it depth and personality. This story is definitely a winner.”

The Non-Fiction prize has been awarded to Wab Kinew for The Reason You Walk, published by Penguin Canada.

About the book: Invoking hope, healing and forgiveness, The Reason You Walk is a poignant story of a towering but damaged father and his son as they embark on a journey to repair their family bond.

Camilla Gibb, Author and Non-Fiction Judge, says: “Wab Kinew’s story is a deeply moving memoir about the possibility of forgiveness and healing within a family, a community and a country coming to terms with the damaging legacy of the residential school system. The son of an Anishinaabe chief and a non-native woman, Kinew moves within two worlds, as did his father, both seeking to reconcile conflicting parts of selves shaped by different cultural forces. Wab Kinew’s book is a gift to this country.”

“We’d like to congratulate our winners on their debut books—works that will further enrich the lives of readers in Canada and around the world,” says Michael Tamblyn, CEO, Rakuten Kobo. “It is our great pleasure to support new authors making such great first contributions to Canadian literature.”

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 April 19, 2016):

Literary Fiction

  • Meadowlark by Wendi Stewart - NeWest Press
  • Pillow by Andrew Battershill - Coach House Books
  • Specimen by Irina Kovalyova - House of Anansi Press
  • Debris by Kevin Hardcastle - Biblioasis
  • Birdie by Tracey Lindberg - HarperCollins Canada
  • Nothing Like Love by Sabrina Ramnanan - Doubleday Canada



The Kobo Emerging Writer prize is eligible to Canadian citizens or legal residents of Canada who published debut books during the 2015 calendar year in the categories of Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction (Romance this year; a different genre is 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 5 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 variety of E Ink eReaders including Kobo Aura H2O, Kobo Glo HD, and Kobo Touch 2.0. 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.

Director, Public Relations

416.977.8737 x 3587

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