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Seventh Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Shortlist Announced

May 04, 2021

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

Rakuten Kobo, in search of the best books written by debut Canadian authors, today announced the shortlist for its seventh annual 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 Mystery this year. In addition, each winning author receives promotional, marketing and ongoing communications support throughout 2021.

The 2021 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: Kamal Al-Solaylee for Nonfiction, Jennifer Robson for Literary Fiction, and Amy Stuart for Mystery.

The winners will be announced June 22, 2021. Details to follow.


Literary Fiction


Full shortlist here:

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

Kamal Al-Solaylee, Non-Fiction

Kamal Al-Solaylee is the author of the national bestseller Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, winner of the 2013 Toronto Book Award and a finalist for the CBC’s Canada Reads and the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. His second book, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone) won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing in 2017 and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards for Nonfiction. He’s a two-time nominee for the National Magazine Awards, winning a Gold Medal in 2019 for columns. He holds a PhD in English from Nottingham University and is a professor at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University. His third book of nonfiction, Return, will be published in September.

Jennifer Robson, Literary Fiction

Jennifer Robson is the internationally bestselling author of six historical fiction novels including Our Darkest Night, The Gown, Somewhere in France, and more. She holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from Saint Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Robson lives in Toronto with her family.

Amy Stuart, Genre Fiction (Mystery)

Amy Stuart is the #1 bestselling author of three novels, Still Mine, Still Water, and Still Here. In 2012, Stuart completed her MFA in Creative Writing through the University of British Columbia. She worked for many years as a high school educator with the bulk of her career spent teaching guidance and English in downtown alternative high schools. In 2018, Stuart founded Writerscape to support others in improving their professional and creative writing skills. Stuart’s other love is hockey. She is one of only four women head coaches in the GTHL, the world’s largest youth competitive hockey league. She was born in Toronto where she still lives with her husband and their three sons.


About Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Rakuten Kobo Inc. is the world’s digital bookseller created by and for book lovers. Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten Group Inc. and headquartered in Toronto, Rakuten Kobo’s 38 million worldwide users can read any time, 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 devices 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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