Congratulations to Connor Kerr, whose novel AVENUE OF CHAMPIONS (Nightwood Editions) has been shortlisted for the 2022 Amazon First Novel Award! 

From the Jury Citation:Daniel is a young Métis man searching for a way to exist in a world of lateral violence, intergenerational trauma and systemic racism. Facing obstacles of his own at every turn, he observes and learns from the lived realities of his family members, friends, teachers and lovers. He finds hope in the inherent connection of Indigenous Peoples to the land, and the permanence of culture, language, and ceremony in the face of displacement.

Set in Edmonton, this story considers Indigenous youth in relation to the urban constructs and colonial spaces in which they survive—from violence, whitewashing, trauma and racism to language revitalization, relationships with Elders, re-staking land claims and, ultimately, triumph. Based on Papaschase and Métis oral histories and lived experience, Conor Kerr’s debut novel will not soon be forgotten.

Previous Praise for AVENUE OF CHAMPIONS:
“Kerr has given voice to the reality of Edmonton’s homeless Indigenous youth. People who survive inside of the shadows of what used to be called The City of Champions. The realities of Indigenous youth trying to survive the child welfare system in a city that prides itself on being winners of everything from sport to industry are placed on display. What Kerr has given to us through his humour, and his own lived experience as a Métis hunter and writer, is a fresh voice and one that we will be hearing from for many years to come.” ― Norma Dunning, author of Tainna 

“Conor Kerr’s short story collection, Avenue of Champions, is a map of amiskwaciwâskahikan with a host of characters tenderly placed and intricately weaved together. This book firmly held me in its grasp from the very first story and didn’t let go until the book’s final lines, at which point I realized my heart had been in my throat the whole time, aching. Like saskatoonberries staining kohkom’s palms, these characters and this novel will live in your skin long past when you are through reading its pages.” ― Jessica Johns, author of how not to spill 

“Conor Kerr’s Avenue of Champions ripples out into a vibrant world, woven together with equal parts hard times and humour. It is alive, is what I mean―all while putting in plain view the unevenly-unjust world we live in. A furious, bright, jagged delight.” ― John Elizabeth Stintzi, author of Junebat 

“A star is born with Conor Kerr, whose debut novel hit shelves this fall. Set in Edmonton, the book follows Daniel, a young Métis man, as he navigates the trials of everyday life that play out against the backdrop of systemic racism, intergenerational trauma, and intracommunity violence. Drawing on Papaschase and Métis oral histories as well as his own lived experience, Kerr makes a dazzling first impression with this novel about contemporary Métis life on Treaty Six.” ― Jason Purcell, Glass Bookshop (Edmonton), in Quill & Quire, “Books of the Year: Canada’s book community shares their favourite reads of 2021”

Conor Kerr is a Métis/Ukrainian educator, writer and harvester. He is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, part of the Edmonton Indigenous community and is descended from the Lac Ste. Anne and Fort Des Prairies Métis communities and the Papaschase Cree Nation. His Ukrainian family settled in Treaty 4 territory in Saskatchewan. Conor works as the manager of Indigenous relations and supports at NorQuest College and is a sessional instructor in the pimâcihisowin program at MacEwan University. In 2019, Conor received The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize. His writing has been anthologized in Best Canadian Stories 2020, Best Canadian Poetry 2020 and has appeared in literary magazines across Canada. He is honoured to be able to live, work and chase Labrador retrievers around on the land that his family has called home for generations. Connor is represented by Carolyn Forde and Cody Caetano.

To see the full list of honorees, please visit: