Summer reading with the 2021 Atlantic Book Awards winners

The annual awards recognize excellence in Atlantic Canadian writing and book publishing.

Tyler LeBlanc, Anne Simpson and Tammy Armstrong are among the winners at this year's Atlantic Book Awards. Photos courtesy Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia.
Tyler LeBlanc, Anne Simpson and Tammy Armstrong are among the winners at this year's Atlantic Book Awards. Photos courtesy Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia.

As summer approaches, the choice of some seasonal reading just got a little easier with the announcement of this year’s Atlantic Book Awards.

Handed out in a virtual ceremony last night, Halifax’s Tyler LeBlanc led the pack taking home two of the four shortlisted awards for his debut book Acadian Driftwood.

Tracing the discovery of his Acadian heritage back to the Expulsion, LeBlanc took home awards for both non-fiction and historical writing. In awarding him the trophy for non-fiction writing, the jury called Acadian Driftwood a “rigorously researched narrative” and a “truly stunning work.”

“I’m very honoured to have received two awards last night and humbled to have been considered among such an amazing group of writers and books,” says LeBlanc of his wins. “It is amazing to receive such praise from our local publishing industry. Big thanks to everyone who has supported me and the book throughout the entire journey, and congratulations to all the other winners and nominees.”

Other winners this year included Tammy Armstrong, who took home the inaugural Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award for her collection, Year of the Metal Rabbit. Named in honour of the late African Nova Scotian poet and teacher, the award was presented by Tynes’s sister Margaret Nyajeka.

One of Canada’s largest book prizes, the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, went to Nova Scotia’s Anne Simpson for her novel Speechless. The $25,000 prize is awarded by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, with support from Thomas Head Raddall’s family.

This year’s Pioneer Award went to Cape Breton’s Ronald Caplan, publisher of Breton Books, in recognition of his fifty years as a publisher and his lasting contribution to Canadian culture.

Silver Donald Cameron won the Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award posthumously for his non-fiction work, Blood in the Water: A True Story of Revenge in the Maritimes and the APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award went to Newfoundland’s Breakwater Books and author Morgan Murray for the novel Dirty Birds.

The complete list of 2021 Atlantic Book Awards winners follows:

Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction 
Julie Curwin for The Appendage Formerly Known as Your Left Arm (Boularderie Island Press)

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature
Tom Ryan for Keep This to Yourself (Albert Whitman & Company)

Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, sponsored by Marquis Book Printing
Andrea Procter for A Long Journey: Residential Schools in Labrador and Newfoundland (ISER Books)

Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s Best Atlantic-Published Book Award, Sponsored by Friesens Corporation
Breakwater Books for Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray

Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing
Tyler LeBlanc for Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion (Goose Lane Editions)

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award
Tyler LeBlanc for Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion (Goose Lane Editions)

Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction), presented by Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and Cluett Insurance
Lesley Crewe for The Spoon Stealer (Nimbus Publishing)

J.M. Abraham Poetry Award
Afua Cooper for Black Matters, with photography by Wilfried Raussert (Roseway Publishing)

Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration
Sydney Smith for I Talk Like a River, written by Jordan Scott (Neal Porter Books)

Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Fiction), sponsored by the family of John and Margaret Savage and Royden Trainor
Alison Taylor for Aftershock (HarperCollins)

Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Non-Fiction), sponsored by Weed Man Maritimes, Heritage House Law Office, and I Love Renovations
Garry Leeson for The Dome Chronicles (Nevermore Press)

Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award
Tammy Armstrong for Year of the Metal Rabbit (Gaspereau Press)

Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction), presented by the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth
Silver Donald Cameron (posthumously) for Blood on the Water: A True Story of Revenge in the Maritimes (Viking Canada)

Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Anne Simpson for Speechless (Freehand Books)

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