We are elated to share that 11 books have been named to the 2024 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour longlist including Transatlantic client Sam Shelstad’s THE COBRA AND THE KEY!

The annual award for literary humour grants a $25,000 prize to the winner and two $5,000 prizes to the runners-up. It has been awarded annually since 1947, and previous winners include Terry Fallis, W.O. Mitchell, Stuart McLean, and last year’s winner, Wayne Johnston.

This year, instead of the usual 10-book longlist, 11 books have been named to the list after three titles tied for 9th place, the Stephen Leacock Associates said in releasing the list.

The three finalists will be announced on May 21, with the winner to be named at a gala dinner in Orillia, Ont., on June 22.


To the untrained eye, Sam Shelstad may look a lot like a Value Village cashier who shares an apartment with his Uncle Herman and has just emerged from a failed relationship with a woman forty years his senior whom he met at his mother’s book club. But Sam is a successful novelist—or will be soon, he’s certain. The manuscript of his debut novel, The Emerald, is currently on the desk of a celebrated indie publisher. While he waits to hear back, he’s hard at work on two ambitious writing projects. The first is the Molly novel, a fictional rendering of Sam’s newly defunct relationship. The second is a guide for aspiring fiction writers like yourself. The two have much to teach one another, and much to teach you.

Drawing on examples from the work of greats like George Orwell, Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alice Munro, Kazuo Ishiguro, Clarise Lispector, and Sam Shelstad, The Cobra and the Key takes the novice through aspects of character, detail, plot, style, point of view, dialogue, and meaning. Before long, you’ll be ready to print off your first draft and embark on revisions. Then it’s time to learn some of the tricks of the publishing biz. Having just been threatened with legal action by his soon-to-be publisher for stalking said publisher’s son via Instagram, Sam knows a thing or two about that too. Are you ready to get serious about your writing?

Sam Shelstad is the author of the story collection Cop House (Nightwood Editions, 2017) and the novel Citizens of Light. He is a regular contributor to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and his work has appeared in magazines including The New Quarterly and Joyland. He was longlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize, a runner up for the Thomas Morton Memorial Prize, and finalist for a National Magazine Award. Shelstad lives in Toronto.

Sam is represented by Samantha Haywood.

Congratulations Sam!