York University creative writing Professor Michael Helm has been nominated for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for his new novel After James (McClelland & Stewart).
This is Helm’s third nomination for the prize; he was nominated in 2010 for Cities of Refuge and in 2004 for In the Place of Last Things.
“Nominations and awards help books find their intended readers,” says Helm. “The Writers’ Trust supports writers of all kinds at different stages of their writing lives. It does great work, and knows the value of its currency.”
Nominated alongside Helm for the $25,000 prize are: Anosh Irani for The Parcel (Knopf Canada); Kerry Lee Powell for Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush (Harper Avenue); Yasuko Thanh for Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains (Hamish Hamilton); and Katherena Vermette for The Break (House of Anansi).
The five finalists were selected by a jury, and each finalist will receive $2,500. On the jury are writers Lauren B. Davis, Trevor Ferguson and Pasha Malla, who read 135 books submitted by 55 publishers.
The prize has been sponsored by Rogers Communications Inc. since its inception in 1997, and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary.
After James is story told in three connected parts that explore different types of genre fiction – the gothic horror, the detective novel and the apocalyptic. A neuroscientist retreats to a secluded cabin in the woods, intending to blow the whistle on a pharmaceutical company and its creativity drug gone wrong. A failed poet is lured to Rome as a “literary detective” to decode the work of a mysterious Internet poet who seems to write about murders with precise knowledge of private details. On the heels of a life crisis, a virologist discovers her identity has been stolen by a conceptual artist in whose work someone always goes missing. The novel is described as gorgeously written and full of adventure and suspense.
Helm’s debut novel, The Projectionist, was nominated for the Giller Prize and the Trillium Book Award. Helm’s writing on fiction, poetry and visual arts has appeared in North American newspapers and magazines, including Brick, where he serves as editor.
Finalists for the 20th anniversary Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize will appear at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto on Oct. 25. A podcast of the 2016 prize jurors discussing their adjudication process is available on Soundcloud.
The prize winner will be announced at the Writers’ Trust Awards Ceremony at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio on Nov. 2.
Past prize winners include: Austin Clarke (1997), Helen Humphreys (2000), Alice Munro (2004), Joseph Boyden (2005), Lawrence Hill (2007), Miriam Toews (2008, 2014) and André Alexis (2015).
For more information, visit writerstrust.com.