The Award “recognizes the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2019 in the English language” and is presented by the Writers’ Union of Canada. The winners will be announced in June.

This year’s jurists are authors Lesley Choyce, Norma Dunning, and Djamila Ibrahim, and they gave the praise below to the nominated works:

Christy Ann Conlin, Watermark (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
“Christy Ann Conlin’s Watermark is an unforgettable collection of mostly dark tales of psychological insight about characters that jump right off the page. Conlin’s characters grapple with difficult life circumstances, old family secrets, and dark thoughts. The stories are often heartbreaking, surprising, and sometimes even creepy. Mystery and danger abound in a deceptively familiar Canadian landscape. An irresistible read.”

Christy Ann Conlin is the author of two acclaimed novels, Heave and The Memento. Heave was a finalist for the First Novel Award, the Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, and the Dartmouth Book Award. Her short stories have been published in numerous literary journals, long listed for both the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the American Short Fiction Prize, and appeared in the anthology Best Canadian Stories. Christy is represented by Marilyn Biderman.

Terry Doyle, DIG (Breakwater Books Ltd.)
“Terry Doyle brings a true East Coast Canada feel and understanding to his work. What may seem simplistic in his work actually makes the reader think and double-think about what his stories tell us. He is obviously a humble writer and humble man, a quality that rarely shines through in the works of many authors. Simple is not easy writing. Simple is difficult. Doyle is able to hold the attention of the reader as he tells you a story, giving you the feeling you are sitting across from him at his kitchen table. He is a writer who works within a true art form and is one to be admired.”

Terry Doyle is a writer from the Goulds, Newfoundland. Winner of the 2017 Percy Janes First Novel Award, and finalist for the 2017 NLCU Fresh Fish Award, his work has appeared in Riddle Fence, Papermill Press, and the Newfoundland Quarterly. Terry is represented by Stephanie Sinclair.

Zalika Reid-Benta, Frying Plantain (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
“Zalika Reid-Benta’s debut short story collection, Frying Plantain, is brilliant. Through Reid-Benta’s quiet but unflinching prose, we witness a Black girl’s journey into adulthood. Along the way, we meet characters that are by turns lovable and frustrating, stubborn and vulnerable. Reid-Benta writes her characters into existence with great assurance, skill, and tenderness. Frying Plantain is as accomplished as it is delightful.”

Zalika Reid-Benta is a Toronto-based writer whose work has appeared on CBC Books, in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, and in Apogee Journal. She received an M.F.A. in fiction from Columbia University in 2014 and is an alumnus of the 2017 Banff Writing Studio. She completed a double major in English Literature and Cinema and a minor in Caribbean Studies at University of Toronto’s Victoria College. She also studied Creative Writing at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. She is currently working on a young-adult fantasy novel drawing inspiration from Jamaican folklore and Akan spirituality. Zalika is represented by Amy Tompkins.

Congratulations to all the nominees! To see the full list, please visit: