Sunday, January 15, 2012

Longlist At Long Last

The other day, I was at a literary event in Edmonton. I went for the company and the beer, which they serve at the Artery, the place they held this event. (Side note: The Artery is one of the greatest new arts spaces in Edmonton, developed by local musician and artsy type, Lori G.) Anyway, at the event, they announced the longlist for the Alberta Readers Choice Award. Even since its inception, I've been a critic about this award. I wasn't against the award per se, heck an award for Alberta is a great thing. But in its first two years, the award wasn't entirely for Alberta writers, even though the promotional material said it was designed to support Alberta writers and publishing. The original rules stated that books had to be published in Alberta, regardless of whether the author was Albertan or not. So what happened in the first two years of this award designed to promote Alberta writers is that writers from out of province (both from BC) won the award. And many great Alberta writers who had books published weren't even in the running because their publishers were not Albertan.

To give the organizers of this award, the Edmonton Public Library, their due, they realized that there was a problem and decided to fix it. Now the award is open to all Alberta writers who had a book published in one year, regardless of whether their publisher was Albertan or not. When the longlist (see below this paragraph) was announced two things happened: First, every single Alberta writer on the longlist, save for one (Brian Brennan's Leaving Dublin), was published outside the province. Alberta has some great publishers but unfortunately, they cannot publish only writers from Alberta. They, like Alberta writers, have to open to out-of-province opportunities.

The second thing that happened is that I and my book, Fall From Grace, was included on that longlist. It was nice to be included but it's still too early to celebrate. A longlist is just that, a longlist. To me, it's the shortlists that counts. I've got a bit of a problem with the frenzy over Canadian book awards, shortlists, longlists, etc. but I won't go into it. The article below explains it better.

But I do know that being on a longlist, especially for an award worth $10K, does help get books into stores, and then into the hands of readers, which is always a good thing.

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