Ottawa Book Awards

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About the Ottawa Book Awards

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.

Announcement of 2022 finalists

The 2022 Ottawa Book Awards finalists were announced on September 20, 2022.

You can watch readings by the authors at

Announcement of 2022 winners

Winners of the 2022 Ottawa Book Awards were revealed during an awards ceremony on  Wednesday, October 19, 2022, at 7:00 p.m

Additionally, the following awards were presented at the ceremony:

A special thank you to our partner, the Ottawa Public Library / Bibliothèque publique d'Ottawa. 

2023 Program Guidelines

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 Fiction and Non-fiction categories in both French and English. 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 Literary Non-fiction, including biographies, memoirs, cultural histories, literary journalism and essays
  • published in 2022
  • written in English or French
  • written by one or two authors. All authors must be 18 years of age or older and reside in the city of Ottawa* or who are Anishinabe Algonquin 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 personal CCRA 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.

Ineligible entries

  • translations
  • posthumous nominations
  • anthologies and books with works by more than two authors
  • ghost written books
  • unbound manuscripts
  • works published solely in an electronic format
  • textbooks, catalogues, cookbooks, reference books, academic theses, technical manuals
  • 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.

Submission Procedure

Authors must complete the online submission form and attach all required information.

Four copies of each submitted title must be mailed to our offices. Either the author or publisher may send in an eligible title.

Selection Process

The City of Ottawa uses a peer review process to select the Ottawa Book Awards and Prix du livre d’Ottawa 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 short-list of finalists will be announced in September 2023.

The names of award winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in October 2023.

Assessment Criteria

The criterion for selection is literary excellence. This is determined based on the following literary qualities:

  • Narrative Flow
  • Style/Technique
  • Tone/Voice
  • Perspective/Innovation
  • Ideas/Research
  • Significance

Submission Deadline

Deadline for submission is Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at 4 pm. All online submissions must be received by the deadline date. Late submissions will not be accepted.

Books must be mailed 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 will not be returned.

Announcement of Finalists and Winners

The short-list of finalists will be announced in September 2023.

The names of award winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in October 2023.

Application forms and contact information

Contact Information

For more information, or to discuss eligibility, contact Yasmina Proveyer, Cultural Funding Officer, by phone 613-227-3265 or by email at

For general information and technical support, contact

2022 Winners and Finalists

English fiction category

Awarded for outstanding published works of fiction including novels, short stories, children’s literature and poetry.

Jury members: Faizal Deen, Conyer Clayton and Catherine Austen


Masses on Radar

by David O’Meara
Coach House Books

Words like radio waves, bouncing off the spectres of mortality, middle age, and the mundane. Embracing uncertainty and incorporating seasonal forecasts, humour, trivia, satire, politics, the environment, loss, and the mundane, these poems are a detection system signaling a paradox of meanings.

David O'Meara is the author of four previous collections of poetry, most recently Masses on Radar (Coach House Books 2021). David was the Poet-in-Residence for Arc Poetry Magazine and served as a faculty member at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Image of David O'Meara
David O'Meara

Jury Statement for Masses on Radar:

David O’Meara’s Masses On Radar, his 5th poetry collection, is quite simply an astonishing book. This is high-voltage poetry, gorgeously written, edited, and arranged, as well as reflective and tender. O’Meara’s poems, his “pantomime of normal”, offer us compelling portraits, both funny and heart-rending, of the poet’s consciousness in middle age. Having the opportunity to read O’Meara’s poems is an enriching and unforgettable experience!

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

by Emily Austin
Simon & Schuster Canada

This hilarious and profound debut for fans of Mostly Dead Things and Goodbye, Vitamin, follows a morbidly anxious young woman who stumbles into a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church and becomes obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.

Emily R. Austin was born in Ontario, Canada, and received a writing grant from the Canadian Council for the Arts in 2020. She studied English literature and library science at Western University. She currently lives in Ottawa. Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is her first novel.

Image of Emily Austin with book
Emily Austin

Repointing the Bricks

by Jacqueline Bourque
Mansfield Press

Repointing the Bricks inhabits and is inhabited. Jacqueline Bourque examines the lasting impression that birthplace can have on those who find refuge elsewhere. Confident that home is often experienced as addition and subtraction of the self, she sheds new homes regularly with the knowledge that instability can lead to a reconsideration of how a person is defined.

Jacqueline Bourque’s poetry is featured in a number of anthologies and journals, including The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, Queen’s Quarterly, and The Dalhousie Review. In 2019, she released a chapbook titled The Dune as Bookmark, published by Anstruther Press. Repointing the Bricks, published by Mansfield Press, is her debut collection.

Image of Jacqueline Bourque with book
Jacqueline Bourque

The Artist & The Assassin

by Mark Frutkin
The Porcupine’s Quill

A novel based on the wild and creative life and mysterious death of the famous 17th century Italian painter, Caravaggio. The book has two main characters: Caravaggio himself (the Artist) and his ultimate Assassin.

Mark Frutkin has published 10 novels, 4 works of non-fiction and 4 collections of poetry. His novel, Fabrizio's Return, won the Trillium Award (2007), the national Sunburst Award, and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. He has been a finalist 3 times for the Ottawa Book Award.

Image of Mark Frutkin with book
Mark Frutkin

Letters from Johnny

by Wayne Ng
Guernica Editions Inc

Set in Toronto 1970, Letters from Johnny takes us from the FLQ crisis and a shocking neighbourhood crime, to the simple heartbreak of being a Maple Leafs fan. Wayne Ng brings us the world of Johnny Wong, as the 11-year-old pours out his fears, hopes, and dreams to his new pen-pal, Leafs legend Dave Keon.

Wayne Ng was born in downtown Toronto to Chinese immigrants and works as a school social worker in Ottawa. His debut novel Finding The Way was released in 2018. He is an award-winning short story and travel writer, blogging and photographing along the way at

Image of Wayne Ng with book
Wayne Ng

French fiction category

Awarded for outstanding published works of fiction including novels, short stories, children’s literature and poetry.

Jury members: Guy Bélizaire, Aristote Kavungu, Danièle Vallée


Le malaimant

by Michèle Vinet
Les Éditions L’Interligne

Aurel is tormented by the past, love, and the blank page. Fabulous characters come to his aid with their potions and talismans. A perilous journey begins at the heart of a man’s turmoil, which leads him down treacherous paths.

A University of Ottawa graduate in French Literature and Education, and a specialist in French as a second language, Michèle Vinet has devoted much of her career to education.

Image of Michele Vinet with book
Michèle Vinet

Jury Statement for Le malaimant :

Words, sentences, and paragraphs captivate us throughout this story, which is an epic of dreams, love, friendship, and writing. You can easily be lulled by Vinet’s poetic, rich, and vivid prose. More than a novel, it is a sweet symphony played on enchanting notes.

Marjorie à Montréal

by Véronique-Marie Kaye
Éditions Prise de parole

When Marjorie Chalifoux arrives in Montréal—pregnant at 19 with the child of a deceased lover—she only has one plan in mind: to make a living with her poor sewing skills. Unwilling to be pushed around, she quickly learns that through her blunt and outspoken nature, she has the power to change the lives of everyone she meets.

Véronique-Marie Kaye is a novelist and playwright. She won the Trillium Book Award for her novel Marjorie Chalifoux (2015) and was a finalist for the same award for her play Afghanistan (2013).

Image of Véronique-Marie Kaye with book
Véronique-Marie Kaye

Dans le ventre du Congo

by Blaise Ndala
Mémoire d’encrier

Dans le ventre du Congo tells the story of Princess Tshala Nyota Moelo, who breaks free from the control of one of the most prestigious monarchies of pre-colonial Congo. Seduced by a young Belgian settler, she ends up in the last human zoo in Europe.

Blaise Ndala was born in Congo (DRC), a country he left in 2003 to study law in Belgium. He emigrated to Canada in 2007. His novels include: J’irai danser sur la tombe de Senghor, Sans capote ni kalachnikov and Dans le ventre du Congo.

Image of Blaise Ndala with book
Blaise Ndala

Dans la solitude du Terminal 3

by Éric Mathieu
La mèche

February 1984. Nathan Adler witnesses a car accident and helps the driver. Irresistibly attracted to the driver, Nathan meets a toxic group that revolves around writer Antoine Dulys. Between the many blackouts, where Nathan visits a parallel world, and the nauseating awakenings, reality becomes distorted until it takes an irreversible dramatic turn.

Éric Mathieu is a writer and linguistics professor at the University of Ottawa. He has been living in Ottawa since 2004. Les suicidés d’Eau-Claire, his first novel, was a finalist for the prestigious Trillium Book Award in 2017 and won the Prix littéraire émergence from the Association des auteures et des auteurs de l’Ontario français.

Image of Éric Mathieu with book
Éric Mathieu

English non-fiction category

Awarded for outstanding published works of non-fiction including biographies, memoirs, cultural histories, literary journalism and essays.

Jury members: Tim Cook, Amanda Jetté-Knox and Graeme Truelove


The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes Espionage in the US-China Cyber War

by Fen Osler Hampson and Mike Blanchfield
Sutherland House

Landing in Vancouver on December 2018, Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian authorities with an American extradition warrant. Meng was accused of fraud and bypassing sanctions against Iran. In an act of retaliation, China arrested two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, charging them with spying. Imprisoned and interrogated, the Two Michaels became hostages in a tense showdown.

Fen Osler Hampson is Chancellor’s Professor at Carleton University and President of the World Refugee & Migration Council.

Mike Blanchfield is the international affairs writer for The Canadian Press, based in Ottawa.

Images of Fen Osler Hampson & Mike Blanchfield with book
Fen Osler Hampson & Mike Blanchfield

Jury Statement for The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes Espionage in the US-China Cyber War

The Two Michaels is a riveting read from the first page, blending together a timely, fast-paced telling of political drama and harrowing personal strife. Blanchfield and Hampson leave no stone unturned as they stitch together how two Canadian men in China become the unfortunate faces of international tension in a changing world.

Anything But a Still Life: The Art and Lives of Molly Lamb and Bruno Bobak

by Nathan M. Greenfield
Goose Lane Editions

The art and lives of Molly Lamb and Bruno Bobak — from their work as war artists during World War II to their marriage and post-war life in Vancouver and then Fredericton. Greenfield combines analysis of the Bobaks’ art, interviews with contemporaries, and research into Molly’s diaries and letters to paint a comprehensive portrait of the Bobaks’ life and work.

Nathan M. Greenfield is the author of eight books. A regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, Greenfield’s articles have also appeared in the Walrus, Canada’s History, the Globe and Mail, and Maclean’s.

Image of Nathan M. Greenfield with book
Nathan M. Greenfield

Women at the Helm: How Jean Sutherland Boggs, Hsio-yen Shih, and Shirley L. Thomson Changed the National Gallery of Canada

by Diana Nemiroff
McGill-Queen’s University Press

Women at the Helm explores a transformative thirty-year period in the history of an iconic cultural institution through the careers of three directors, their accomplishments, and the challenges they faced. A unique history of the National Gallery of Canada considers the circumstances of these directors’ remarkable tenures and the obstacles still faced by women in leadership roles today.

Diana Nemiroff is an art historian and a former curator of contemporary and modern art at the National Gallery of Canada.

Image of Diana Nemiroff with book
Diana Nemiroff

The Perfect Medicine

by Brodie Ramin
Dundurn Press

The Perfect Medicine takes the reader on a personal journey of discovery and explores the science of exercise and health. It can help readers change their lives by providing facts about running and sharing inspiring examples of others who have used running to transform their lives.

Brodie Ramin is a primary care and addictions physician who uses exercise as a tool to improve the physical and mental health of his patients. His previous book, The Age of Fentanyl, was shortlisted for the Donner Prize. Dr. Ramin is an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa

Image of Brodie Ramin with book
Brodie Ramin

Sir Mackenzie Bowell: A Canadian Prime Minister Forgotten by History

by Barry K. Wilson
Loose Cannon Press

Sir Mackenzie Bowell was Canada’s fifth prime minister (1894-1896). He is a little known prime minister, despite his history as a fifty year parliamentarian from Belleville, Ontario, and a key minister in several cabinets under Sir John A. Macdonald. This book traces his life from arriving as a child immigrant from England to a newspaper owner, parliamentarian and prime minister. This book fills in some important blanks in Canadian history.

Barry Wilson worked for 44 years as a journalist in three provinces, including 34 years in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. He has written five books, all nonfiction and published by different Canadian publishing companies. He was inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame for his agricultural reporting.

Image of Barry Wilson with book
Barry Wilson

French non-fiction category

Awarded for outstanding published works of non-fiction including biographies, memoirs, cultural histories, literary journalism and essays.

This category was not awarded in 2022.

Ottawa Book Award: Past Winners 

Year Ottawa Book Award FICTION Ottawa Book Awards NON FICTION Prix du livre d'Ottawa FICTION Prix du livre d’Ottawa NON FICTION
2021 Conyer Clayton, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite  Suzanne Evans, The Taste of Longing: Ethel Mulvany and her Starving Prisoners of War Cookbook  Monia Mazigh, Farida  Nicole V. Champeau, Niagara…la voie qui y mène
2020 Henry Beissel, Footprints of Dark Energy Beverley McLachlin, Truth be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law Véronique Sylvain, Premier quart N/A
2019 Kagiso Lesego Molope, This Book Betrays My Brother Tim Cook, The Secret History of Soldiers: How Canadians Survived the Great War Andrée Christensen, L'Isle aux abeilles noires Yvon Malette, Entre le risque et le rêve : Une brève histoire des Éditions David
2018 Shane Rhodes, Dead White Men Roy MacGregor, Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada Alain Bernard Marchand, Sept vies, dix-sept morts N/A
2017 John Metcalf, The Museum at the End of the World Charlotte Gray, The Promise of Canada: 150 Years - People and Ideas that Have Shaped our Country Andrée Christensen, Épines d'encre N/A
2016 Nadine McInnis, Delirium for Solo Harp Tim Cook, Fight to the Finish: Canadians in the Second World War, 1944-1945 Pierre-Luc Landry, Les corps extraterrestres Patricia Smart, De Marie de l'Incarnation à Nelly Arcan
2015 Scott Randall, And to Say Hello Heather Menzies, Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good Blaise Ndala, J’irai danser sur la tombe de Senghor N/A
2014 David O'Meara, A Pretty Sight Paul Wells, The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006 - N/A Philippe Bernier Arcand, La dérive populiste
2013 Missy Marston, The Love Monster Michael Petrou, Is This Your First War? Travels through the Post - 9/11 Islamic World Marie-Josée Martin, Un jour, ils entendront mes silences N/A
2012 Jamieson Findlay, The Summer of Permanent Wants Ruth B. Phillips, Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums Estelle Beauchamp, Un souffle venu de loin N/A
2011 Gabriella Goliger, Girl Unwrapped Eric Enno Tamm, The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds N/A Lucie Joubert, L’envers du landau
2010 Craig Poile, True Concessions Andrew Horrall, Bringing Art to Life: a Biography of Alan Jarvis Claire Rochon, Fragments de Sifnos  N/A
2009 Andrew Steinmetz, Eva’s Threepenny Theatre Kerry Pither, Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror Margaret Michèle Cook, Chronos à sa table de travail Maurice Henrie, Esprit de sel
2008 Elizabeth Hay, Late Nights on Air Tim Cook, At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1914-1916 Andrée Christensen, Depuis toujours, j’entendais la mer N/A
2007 Janet Lunn, A Rebel’s Daughter Charlotte Gray, Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell Daniel Poliquin, La Kermesse N/A
2006 John-James Ford, Bonk on the Head John Geddes, The Sundog Season Heather Menzies, NO TIME: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life Gilles Lacombe, Trafiquante de lumière Réjean Robidoux, D’éloge et de critique
2005 Frances Itani, Poached Egg on Toast Valerie Knowles, From Telegrapher to Titan: The Life of William C. Van Horne Maurice Henrie, Les roses et le verglas Michel Thérien, L’aridité des fleuves  N/A
2004 Elizabeth Hay, Garbo Laughs Madelaine Drohan, Making A Killing: How And Why Corporations Use Armed Force To Do Business Maurice Henrie, Mémoire Vive Mila Younes, Ma mère, ma fille, ma sœur
2003 Brian Doyle, Mary Ann Alice   Jean Mohsen Fahmy, Ibn Kaldoun :l'Honneur et la Disgrâce Nancy Vickers, La Petite Vieille aux poupées  
2002   Anna Heilman, Never Far Away   Françoise Lepage, Histoire de la littérature pour la jeunesse
2001 Alan Cumyn, Burridge Unbound   Nicole Champeau, Dans les pas de la louve Michèle Matteau, Quatuor pour cordes sensibles  
2000   Roy MacGregor, A Life in the Bush: Lessons From My Father   Patricia Smart, Les femmes du Refus Global
1999 Alan Cumyn, Man of Bone   Pierre Raphaël Pelletier, Il faut crier l’injure  
1998   Dr. Isaac Vogelfanger, Red Tempest   René Dionne, Histoire de la Littérature Franco-Ontarienne des origines à nos jours
1997 Patrick Kavanagh, Gaff Topsails   Maurice Henrie, Le Balcon dans le ciel  
1996   Clyde Sanger, Malcolm MacDonald: Bringing an End to Empire   Dr. Elisabeth J. Lacelle,L’incontournable échange. Conversations oecuméniques et pluridisciplinaires
1995 John Barton, Notes Towards a Family Tree Frances Itani, Man Without Face   Andrée Christensen, Noces d’ailleurs  
1994   Penelope Williams, That Other Place: A Personal Account of Breast Cancer   Gilberte Paquette, Dans le sillage d’Élizabeth Bruyère
1993 Rita Donovan, Daisy Circus Nadine McInnis, The Litmus Body   Maurice Henrie, Le Pont sur le temps Gabrielle Poulin, Petites Fugues pour une saison sèche  
1992   John Sawatsky, Mulroney: The Politics of Ambition    N/A
1991 Rita Donovan, Dark Jewels   Daniel Poliquin, Visions de Jude  
1990   Roy MacGregor, Chief: The Fearless Vision of Billy Diamond    
1989     Maurice Henrie, La chambre à mourir  
1988   Patricia Morley, Kurelek: A Biography    
1987 John Metcalf, Adult Entertainment      
1986   Joan Finnigan, Legacies, Legends and Lies Jean Bruce, Back the Attack! : Canadian Women During the Second World War