Since 1985, the Ottawa Book Awards have recognized the top English and French books published in the previous year. Both languages have categories for fiction and non-fiction. All shortlisted finalists receive $1,000 and each winner receives a prize of $7,500.
Celebrate the talent and creativity of our authors past and present, and applaud their remarkable achievements on the world’s literary stage.
2020 Finalists and Winners
Announcement of 2020 finalists
The 2020 Ottawa Book Awards Finalists will be announced in September 2020.
2020 awards ceremony
The 2020 Ottawa Book Awards will be presented to the winning authors on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. Additional details to follow.
Additionally, the following awards will also be presented at the ceremony:
KAGISO LESEGO MOLOPE
This Book Betrays My Brother
(Mawenzi House Publishers)
Naledi has a charming, gifted older brother, Basi. When she sees Basi commit a horrific act that goes against everything she knows about him, Naledi is caught in a bind. Should she report Basi or should she keep quiet? Would anyone believe her? How will she live her life now? There are no simple answers.
Kagiso Lesego Molope was born in South Africa and lives in Ottawa. Her first two novels, Dancing in the Dust and The Mending Season, were used as school texts in South Africa. This Book Betrays My Brother is her third YA title. Such a Lonely, Lovely Road is her first book for adults.
Jury Statement: "A generous storyteller, Kagiso Lesego Molope plunges us into a first-person narration by Naledi, an adolescent growing up in South Africa in the 90s, obsessed with boys, clothes and the other usual etceteras of teenager life. Told in retrospect, this young adult novel is a racking page-turner; the story and its characters are bound and broken by issues of race and class, filial loyalty and betrayal, innocent friendship and sexual awakening, and the sudden and systemic violence against women in a deeply patriarchal society. A must-read for all ages, This Book Betrays My Brother demands that we recognize the price of speaking the truth in a culture of silence."
Jury members: Sanita Fejzic, Joanne Proulx, Jeff Ross
TIM COOK The Secret History of Soldiers: How Canadians Survived the Great War
(Allen Lane Canada (Penguin Canada))
The Secret History of Soldiers examines how WWI soldiers found entertainment, solace, relief, and distraction from the relentless slaughter. These tales come from the soldiers themselves, mined from the letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral accounts of more than five hundred combatants. Rare examples of trench art, postcards, and even song sheets offer insight into a hidden society that was often irreverent, raunchy, and anti-authoritarian.
Tim Cook is the Great War historian at the Canadian War museum. His ten books have won numerous awards, including J.W. Dafoe Prizes, Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, and C.P. Stacey prizes. He received the 2013 Pierre Berton Award for popularizing Canadian history. He is a member of the Order of Canada.
Jury Statement: "The Secret History of Soldiers by Tim Cook, Canada’s pre-eminent military historian, examines the untold story of combatants in the trenches and on the front lines of the First World War. Drawing upon tens of thousands of letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral accounts, Cook provides a deep and rich account of the culture created by ordinary soldiers. At once moving, poignant, inspiring, and heart-breaking, Cook demonstrates how their songs, poems, plays, and newspapers nurtured their resilience, enabling them to withstand the horrors of war."
Jury members: Katherine Arnup, Duncan McDowall, Elizabeth Schwaiger
Awarded for outstanding published works of fiction including novels, short stories, children’s literature and poetry.
The High-Rise in Fort Fierce by Paul Carlucci
Meet three generations of landlords, each more paranoid and alienated than the last, in the ravaged history of Franklin Place from its construction during the Cold War to its demolition decades later. Their tenants: a drug dealer, a lonely bigot, a political activist, a struggling father, a wandering sex offender, and a woman who refuses to give into it all.
Paul Carlucci's first collection of short fiction, The Secret Life of Fission, won the 2013 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. His second collection, A Plea for Constant Motion, was published to critical acclaim in 2017. His stories have been published in the Malahat Review, subTerrain, the Fiddlehead, and the New Quarterly. He lives in Ottawa.
The Rising Tide by Mark Frutkin
Venice, 1769. Michele Archenti, publisher, former priest and friend to the mysterious skeleton-bearer, Rodolfo, finds himself swept up in a rising tide of politics, ambition and lust in eighteenth-century Venice. Called upon to defend Rodolfo against charges of heresy, Archenti must navigate the murky political waters, and outsmart the ambitious new Inquisitor from Rome.
Ottawa author Mark Frutkin has published sixteen books of fiction, poetry and nonfiction. His most recent novel is The Rising Tide. His most recent poetry book, Hermit Thrush, was a finalist for the Ottawa Book Award. His novel, Fabrizio’s Return, won Ontario’s Trillium Award in 2006.
Ray Vs the Meaning of Life by Michael F. Stewart
Ray is about to inherit his zany grandma’s million-dollar trailer park. But there’s just one small hitch — he has to uncover the meaning of life, and fast!
Michael F. Stewart is an award-winning author who lives in Ottawa, Canada. His graphic novels, novels, and early readers havebeen published by Rubicon Publishing and distributed by Pearson Education, Scholastic Canada, and Oxford University Press.
Building on River by Jean Van Loon
Weaving conjecture with scant known facts, Jean Van Loon has created a verse narrative imagining the life of lumber king J.R. Booth. The poems speak in varied voices – of J.R. Booth himself, family members, business associates, employees, visiting royalty and tavern wags – collectively evoking the man, the place, and the times with drama, insight, and vivid sensory detail.
Jean Van Loon lives with her husband in a home that is an easy walk to the Ottawa River. Since retiring from a career as a public servant and head of the steel industry's national trade association, she has published poems and stories in literary magazines across Canada.
2019 Finalists: Non-fiction
Awarded for outstanding published works of non-fiction including biographies, memoirs, cultural histories, literary journalism and essays.
The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster: Public Betrayal, Justice Denied by Bruce Campbell
This book uncovers the truth about the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster that took place on July 6, 2013. It includes first person interviews with many of the key players, analysis of the corporate executives and the companies involved, an examination of the complex world of transport safety regulation in Canada, and an account of the trials of the three accused.
Bruce Campbell is a former Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one of Canada's leading independent think tanks. Bruce was awarded a Law Foundation of Ontario Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship and spent 2016 as a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law for his work on Lac- Mégantic. He lives in Ottawa.
Getting to Zero: Canada Confronts Global Warming by Tony Clarke
In this book, long-time social and environmental activist Tony Clarke provides the hard-to-find information and analysis about what Canada is and is not doing right now to get to zero. He documents the key initiatives that are moving Canada towards a lower-carbon future. But he also spells out how contradictory government decisions and policies are enabling a business-as-usual approach by the oil and gas industry.
Tony Clarke is the founder and director of the Polaris Institute in Ottawa, an organization dedicated to developing tools and strategies for civic action on major public policy issues. He holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago and is the recipient of Sweden's Right Livelihood Award. He lives in Ottawa.
All Things Consoled: A daugther's memoir by Elizabeth Hay
In this courageous memoir, written with tough-minded candour, tenderness, and wit, Elizabeth Hay lays bare the exquisite agony of a family's dynamics—entrenched favouritism, sibling rivalries, grievances that last for decades, genuine admiration, and enduring love. In the end, she reaches a more complete understanding of the mostunforgettable characters she will ever know, the vivid giants in her life who were her parents.
Elizabeth Hay is the author of the #1 nationally bestselling novel Alone in the Classroom, the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novel Late Nights On Air, as well as four other highly acclaimed works of fiction, His Whole Life, A Student of Weather, Garbo Laughs, and Small Change. Formerly a radio broadcaster, she spent a number of years in Mexico and New York City before returning to Canada. She lives in Ottawa.
The Ottawa Book Awards recognize published books of literary excellence, written by authors residing in Ottawa. A prize of $7,500 is awarded annually in each of the following four categories: English fiction, English non-fiction, French fiction and French non-fiction. Finalists receive a $1,000 prize.
Eligible entries must be:
published books of literary merit with an ISBN number
a minimum of 48 bound pages (except children’s books)
works of Fiction (including novels, short stories, children’s literature and poetry) or LiteraryNon-fiction (including biographies, memoirs, cultural histories, literary journalism and essays)
published in 2019
written in English or French
written by one or two authors 18 years of age or older and who reside in the city of Ottawa* or who are Algonquin Anishinabe and live within 150 km radius of Ottawa**
* To meet the residency requirements, authors must live in Ottawa at the time of the award submission deadline and / or book publication, and a minimum of 12 consecutive months up to and including either or both dates. City staff reserves the right to ask for proof of Ottawa residency. Residency is established by a personalCCRA Notice of Assessment (the statement you are sent after filing an annual income tax return) for the previous year, indicating a current residential address in Ottawa.
**Those who do not have a status card must include a letter of acknowledgement from their Band Council.
anthologies and books with works by more than two authors
re-prints or republications of titles originally published at an earlier date
books submitted by City of Ottawa employees and elected representatives
A minimum of 5 eligible entries must be received each year in a given category and language. If this minimum is not reached, submissions will be forwarded to the following year’s competition.
Either the author or publisher may submit an eligible book. However, in cases where the publisher submits the book directly, the author is required to submit a signed form under separate cover to attest consent and that they meet the program’s eligibility and residency criteria.
Four (4) copies of the nominated book
Application form, completed and signed
Digital documents (On USB key identified with the author name and book title or by email to email@example.com):
Hi-Res author photo in JPEG format (minimum 300 dpi), including photo credit
Hi-Res colour image of the book cover in JPEG format (minimum 300 dpi)
Short, 50-word author bio
Short, 60-word book description
Please note that the books and USB key will not be returned.
The City of Ottawa uses a peer review process to select the Ottawa Book Award laureates. In each language and category, a three-person jury composed of writers and literary arts professionals reviews the books and selects a short list of up to four finalists and one award recipient.
The criterion for selection is literary excellence. This is determined based on the following literary qualities:
Deadline for submission is Monday, January 6, 2020at 4 pm. All submissions must be received by the deadline date or postmarked by that date. Late submissions will not be accepted.
Submissions must be mailed or delivered to:
City of Ottawa
Ottawa Book Awards
Cultural Funding Support Section (26-49)
100 Constellation Drive, 9th Floor West
Ottawa, ON K2G 6J8
Please note that books and USB key will not be returned.
Announcement of Finalists and Winners
A short-list of finalists will be announced in September 2020.
The names of award winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in October 2020.
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For specific information on your submission, or to discuss eligibility, contact: