THE DISHWASHER wins the 2020 First Novel Award!

We are pleased to announce that The Dishwasher by Stéphane Larue (trans. Pablo Strauss) has won the 44th annual First Novel Award! This award honours the achievements of Canadian authors and their debut novels. The the grand prize is $60,000. The Dishwasher is the first work of translation to win the First Novel Award.

In a statement, Biblioasis publisher Dan Wells said, “We’re thrilled by the news. We feel very fortunate indeed to have brought this Quebec bestseller to an English-speaking audience. It’s a powerful moral story with universal appeal, and its success in translation is testament to the artistry of Stéphane’s writing, both its thematic and structural brilliance and its astonishing control of language. And as a press with a very active translation program, we consider this a victory as well for Stéphane’s translator, Pablo Strauss, and for translated literature as a whole. Translations are often treated as secondary in awards recognition, but should of course be valued as the complex works of art that they are. This is the first time that a translation has won this major English prize—indeed, it may be the first time in Canada that a work of translation has won any major English-language prize—and we’re especially proud that it will introduce this important piece of Québécois literature to a wider audience.”

Since its establishment in 1976, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award has launched the careers of some of Canada’s most beloved novelists, including Michael Ondaatje, Joan Barfoot, Joy Kogawa, W. P. Kinsella, Nino Ricci, Rohinton Mistry, Anne Michaels, André Alexis, Michael Redhill, Mary Lawson, Colin McAdam, Joan Thomas, and David Bezmozgis.

The Dishwasher was selected from a shortlist which included The Western Alienation Merit Badge by Nancy Jo Cullen, Going Dutch by James Gregor, Mooncalves by Victoria Hetherington, Aria by Nazanine Hozar, and When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald. Each finalist will receive $6,000.

This year’s jury consisted of Liz Harmer, Shani Mootoo, and Anakana Schofield.

On the judging process, Anakana Schofield said, “We agreed, we disagreed, we discussed, we compromised as all jurors must. I was looking for a lively and disciplined relationship with language, probing ideas, and significant promise. I was delighted to also discover invention, formal ambition, and an unusually uplifting appetite for the ludic in some of the works. Our shortlist offers a literary spectrum that samples the prodigious in scale to the quiet and dire ordinary, which is quite the achievement for first novelists.”

The Dishwasher was also nominated for CBC’s Canada Reads earlier this year. The New York Times Book Review called it “Vivid and moving.”

Author Stéphane Larue was born in Longueuil in 1983. He received a master’s in comparative literature at L’Université de Montréal and has worked in the restaurant industry for the past fifteen years. He lives in Montréal.

Translator Pablo Strauss Pablo Strauss grew up in British Columbia and has lived in Quebec City for over a decade. His translations of Quebec fiction include Daniel Grenier’s The Longest Year (a finalist for the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation), and Maxime Raymond Bock’s Baloney (Coach House Books, 2016) and Atavisms (Dalkey Archive Press, 2015). He has also published shorter translations and reviews in Granta, Geist, and The Montreal Review of Books. Pablo has worked as a dishwasher in nine restaurants in three cities.

It’s October in Montreal, 2002, and winter is coming on fast. Past due on his first freelance gig and ensnared in lies to his family and friends, a graphic design student with a gambling addiction goes after the first job that promises a paycheck: dishwasher at the sophisticated La Trattoria. Though he feels out of place in the posh dining room, warned by the manager not to enter through the front and coolly assessed by the waitstaff in their tailored shirts, nothing could have prepared him for the tension and noise of the kitchen, or the dishpit’s clamor and steam. Thrust on his first night into a roiling cast of characters all moving with the whirlwind speed of the evening rush, it’s not long before he finds himself in over his head once again. A vivid, magnificent debut, with a soundtrack by Iron Maiden, The Dishwasher plunges us into a world in which everyone depends on each other—for better and for worse.


Get your copy of The Dishwasher now!

The Last Goldfish Virtual Launch

Did you miss last night’s virtual launch of Anita Lahey’s new memoir The Last Goldfish? Never fear! You can watch it here!

Anita was joined by Carmine Starnino, Molly Peacock, and Monique Holmes.

Get your copy of The Last Goldfish here.


Twenty-five years ago and counting, Louisa, my true, essential, always-there-for-everything friend, died. We were 22.

When Anita Lahey opens her binder in grade nine French and gasps over an unsigned form, the girl with the burst of red hair in front of her whispers, Forge it! Thus begins an intense, joyful friendship, one of those powerful bonds forged in youth that shapes a person’s identity and changes the course of a life.

Anita and Louisa navigate the wilds of 1980s suburban adolescence against the backdrop of dramatic world events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. They make carpe diem their manifesto and hatch ambitious plans. But when Louisa’s life takes a shocking turn, into hospital wards, medical tests, and treatments, a new possibility confronts them, one that alters, with devastating finality, the prospect of the future for them both.

Equal parts humorous and heartbreaking, The Last Goldfish is a poignant memoir of youth, friendship, and the impermanence of life.

We’re hiring! Now accepting applications for a full-time Publicity and Digital Marketing intern

Publicity and Digital Marketing Intern

Biblioasis is an award-winning independent publishing house based in Windsor, Ontario. We publish approximately 25 titles a year, including short fiction, novels, poetry, literary criticism, memoir, belle lettres, local and regional history, and general nonfiction. We are also the publishers of the critical journal CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries and the annual Best Canadian anthologies, and operate an independent bookstore in Windsor’s historic Walkerville.

We are seeking a full-time publicity and digital marketing intern to join our Windsor office. This is a paid 12-month position primarily entailing the promotion of titles to media, planning and logistics of virtual events, and assisting marketing staff with metadata, digital sales materials and bookseller outreach.

Major Responsibilities:

  • assist with national and international publicity strategies for 16-20 books annually, including electronic pitches, digital review copy management and print review copy mailings, and related follow-up
  • build and manage relations with key media throughout North America
  • write and update press releases and pitches
  • organize and secure media coverage for virtual events, including author appearances at launches, readings, and virtual festivals, as well as in-person events and trade shows as public health recommendations allow
  • assist in designing promotional material such as digital graphics, postcards, bookmarks, posters and advertisements
  • oversee media and product updates on the press’s website and assist with the creation and management of metadata
  • work in collaboration with sales representatives in both Canada and the United States so they are informed and enthusiastic about Biblioasis titles.
  • interact with authors to strategize publicity opportunities and to execute promotional and publicity events.
  • field author queries and help manage author relations, including travel arrangements where public health recommendations allow
  • other duties as assigned

Knowledge, skills, and abilities required:

  • individuals must be extremely organized, detail-oriented, and self-motivated
  • excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • must have a high degree of creativity and the ability to think strategically
  • must be willing to work occasional evenings and weekends
  • computer skills include: Word and Excel experience required. Experience with Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat an asset.

Education and experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, English, art history, or related field
  • experience in the book publishing industry would be considered an asset
  • previous publicity or marketing experience would be an asset
  • courses or certificate in a publishing program an asset

To apply, email resume and cover letter to Dan Wells at by June 19, 2020.


Menno Moto Virtual Launch

Did you miss last night’s virtual launch of Menno Moto: A Journey Across the Americas in Search of My Mennonite Identity? Watch it here! Cameron Dueck talks with Dora Dueck and answers questions from viewers at home.

Buy Menno Moto here.

Mark Bourrie & Margaret Atwood: In Conversation

Did you miss today’s Facebook livestream conversation between Mark Bourrie and Margaret Atwood? Watch it here!

Buy Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson here.

A Dramatic Reading from Aubrey McKee by Alex Pugsley

Today Alex Pugsley along with actors Fiona Highet, Karin Randoja, Matthew Edison, and Mary Lewis performed a section from Alex’s forthcoming novel, Aubrey McKee as a part of the National Arts Centre’s #CanadaPerforms initiative.

Did you miss it? Watch it here! And check out Aubrey McKee here.


April 1 Facebook Livestream – Dan Wells in Conversation with Andre Narbonne

Did you miss our Facebook livestream earlier this month? Watch below for a conversation on publishing and bookselling in the time of pandemic.

Covid-19 Biblioasis Talk

Biblioasis publisher and bookstore owner, Dan Wells, talks with Dr. Andre Narbonne about publishing and bookselling in the time of pandemic. Ask questions and join us for a chat as we try out a virtual event for the first time!

Posted by Biblioasis on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Bush Runner by Mark Bourrie Wins the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize

Today it was announced that Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie won the final RBC Taylor Prize. To say we are ecstatic would be putting it mildly. We are so proud to be Mark’s publisher.

Noreen Taylor, prize founder and chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation, announced that Bush Runner won the $30,000 award during a gala luncheon celebrating this year’s finalists at the Omni King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto.

Taylor stated, “Today we celebrated five of the most remarkable writers of our times and their compelling books – if there ever was a shortlist that defined every goal we had for the RBC Taylor Prize, this is it. Congratulations to the jury for their wisdom and above all heartiest congratulations to Mark Bourrie for his fascinating treatment of this compelling story.”

Vijay Parmar, president of RBC PH&N Investment Counsel, added: “I am delighted to congratulate Mark Bourrie for winning the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize Award. This is an outstanding achievement and contribution to Canadian literature. RBC Wealth Management through the RBC Emerging Artists Project is very proud to have partnered with the Charles Taylor Foundation and played a part in elevating and advancing the profile of our country’s non-fiction writers both at home and around the world.”

When accepting his award, Bourrie stated, “For a long time I wondered if anybody cared about what I wrote. People do.”

In their citation, the jury stated, “Readers of Mark Bourrie’s Bush Runner might well wonder if Jonathan Swift at his edgiest has been at work. This over-the-top narrative connects Canadian fur traders with three European royal courts, mixes in Indigenous political intrigues and family alliances among the Five Nations and French settlers, and adds Jesuits, cannibalism, and the Great Fire of London. To top it off, there’s the impact of the beaver hat and the buffalo on the entire Western world! In Bourrie’s telling, the picaresque Pierre Radisson, a humane con artist of heroic stamina and fluid loyalties, was the fulcrum of four centuries of Canadian centrality in the forging of modern Western civilizations. Who knew?”

Bush Runner is a national bestseller and was listed as one of “The Globe 100: Books that shaped 2019” by The Globe and Mail. It tells the untold adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson, largely known as one of the co-founders of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which is celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2020. Mark recently appeared on CBC’s As It Happens to talk about Bush Runner.

The jurors for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize are Margaret Atwood, Coral Ann Howells, and Peter Theroux. They considered a record 155 books that were submitted for this year’s prize.

The RBC Taylor Prize commemorates Charles Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. The Prize is awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception. The Prize consists of $25,000 for the winner and $5,000 for each of the runners up as well as promotional support to help all shortlisted books stand out in the national media, bookstores, and libraries.

Known to some as the first European to explore the upper Mississippi, and widely as the namesake of ships and hotel chains, Pierre-Esprit Radisson is perhaps best described, writes Mark Bourrie, as “an eager hustler with no known scruples.” Kidnapped by Mohawk warriors at the age of fifteen, Radisson assimilated and was adopted by a powerful family, only to escape to New York City after less than a year. After being recaptured, he defected from a raiding party to the Dutch and crossed the Atlantic to Holland—thus beginning a lifetime of seized opportunities and frustrated ambitions.

A guest among First Nations communities, French fur traders, and royal courts; witness to London’s Great Plague and Great Fire; and unwitting agent of the Jesuits’ corporate espionage, Radisson double-crossed the English, French, Dutch, and his adoptive Mohawk family alike, found himself marooned by pirates in Spain, and lived through shipwreck on the reefs of Venezuela. His most lasting venture as an Artic fur trader led to the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which operates today, 350 years later, as North America’s oldest corporation.

Sourced from Radisson’s journals, which are the best first-hand accounts of 17th century Canada, Bush Runner tells the extraordinary true story of this protean 17th-century figure, a man more trading partner than colonizer, a peddler of goods and not worldview—and with it offers a fresh perspective on the world in which he lived.


Mark Bourrie holds a master’s in journalism, a doctorate in Canadian history, and a Juris Doctor degree. He is the author of thirteen previous books, among them the Macleans bestseller The Fog of War and Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know, a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of 2015. He has been a staff reporter for the Hamilton Spectator, London Free Press and Toronto Sun, contributed more than a thousand articles to Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, and written for National Post, Ottawa Citizen, and other papers. The winner of a National Magazine Award in 1999 and several honorable mentions, Bourrie lectures in History at Carleton University and Canadian Studies at the University of Ottawa.





Our Day with the Book Fairies

On Wednesday we tried something new! We partnered with the Book Fairies to hide copies of Pauline Holdstock’s new novel, Here I Am! across North America.

Here I Am! is about a little boy named Frankie who runs away from home and stows away on a ship when his mother dies and he doesn’t know what to do. We thought this was the perfect book to use in a continent-wide treasure hunt using the hashtags #WheresFrankie and #FindFrankie. We even joined in the fun and hid some copies around Windsor!

Buy your copy of Here I Am! now.

Check out the Book Fairies’ blog post.







Bookseller Praise for Here I Am!

“You will find that this high-seas adventure is one of the most absorbing books of the year. I loved every moment. Oh! I almost forgot to tell you: This book might remind you of past favorites, but it will be one that you won’t soon forget.”
—Shannon Alden, Literati Bookstore (Ann Arbor, MI)

“This captivating novel will surely draw comparisons to Emma Donoghue’s Room and Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and it should; it’s every bit as good as those wonderful books, but in no way imitative. The young narrator’s voice is his own, the story is guaranteed to hook the reader immediately, and the characters’ lively humanity makes Here I Am! a delightfully satisfying read. Very highly recommended!”
—Carol Schneck Varne, Schuler Books (Grand Rapids, MI)

“A highly intelligent six-year-old who has difficulty communicating tries repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, to tell a dullard, dismissive teacher that his mother is dead. Desperate to be heard, Frankie sneaks onto a cruise ship that he thinks will take him to his traveling father. Oops, wrong ship. But Frankie finds a kindred soul or two in a world where so few people seem capable of listening. Like me, you might find your own attentiveness enhanced by this big-hearted story.”
Kay Wosewick, Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee, WI)

“When new books constantly fight for my attention, it takes something special to be distinct. Pauline Holdstock has achieved this miracle. The narrative voice of 6 year old Frankie is what makes this a stand out. Frankie has the naivete of the narrator in ONLY CHILD by Rhiannon Navin, combined with the interesting perspective of a boy on the spectrum like THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTIME. When Frankie’s mother dies, he is thrust into a situation beyond his comprehension, and into a world that fails to understand him. Frankie’s journey is a stunning tribute to perseverance and will melt your heart. HERE I AM! is a captivating winner.”
Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books (Excelsior, MN)

“Put down what you are reading and pick up Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock and read it! Frankie is 6 and is not a normal child. His teachers and parents don’t know how to deal with him and one day he runs away and ends up on an ocean liner headed for America. His trip, how he gets back, and Frankie himself makes for a fabulous story. I couldn’t put this one down.”
—Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)

“I adored HERE I AM, and am now frankly pressuring everyone I know to start reading it right this minute so that we can have a love-fest. The story — child stows away on an ocean liner! — is absurd but oddly inevitable in the telling, and the characters are humanely drawn, even the horribly flawed ones. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant will love the clear-eyed pragmatism of our six-year-old hero, who faces the impossible and somehow just keeps going.”
—Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop (Mendocino, CA)

“I LOVE the distinctly written, very British characters who fill out the plotline of Here I Am! The plot unfolds around the discovery of a death, and although the tale is told mostly by a resourceful six year old, short interludes told by adults ground the story in the starkly mundane fact of mortality. The profound beauty, refreshing delight in small things, and stark realities are balanced in a way that creates a riveting, dynamic, and at times very funny read. This book has stayed with me.”
—Kathleen Johnson, Prairie Lights Bookshop (Iowa City, IA)

Excerpt from How to Die by Ray Robertson in the Globe and Mail!

An excerpt from Ray Robertson’s How to Die: A Book About Being Alive is in the Globe and Mail this weekend. It is available to read online now!

A radical revaluation of how contemporary society perceives death—and a literary tourist’s argument for how it can make us happy.

“He who would teach men to die would teach them to live,” writes Montaigne in Essais, and in How to Die, Ray Robertson takes up the challenge, arguing that the active and intentional consideration of death is essential to our ability to value life. An absorbing excursion through some of Western literature’s most compelling works on the subject of death and a selfhelp book for people who hate self-help, How to Die is an anecdote-driven argument for cultivating a better understanding of death in the belief that, if we do, we’ll know more about what it means to live meaningfully.

Ray also appeared on Global TV’s Morning Show in January. Click on the image below to watch the interview:


“While How to Die is a slim book, it offers some hefty insights, leavened with frequent, self-effacing humour. There are numerous passages here which, while quick to read (the book is very accessible, despite its philosophical bona fides), nonetheless take hours to fully internalize … Brilliant.”
—Robert J. Wiersema, Toronto Star





A shout out to How to Die in Toronto Life:


Click the image below to watch Ray’s interview with Annette Hamm on CHCH’s Morning Live:

Want to hear more from Ray? Read his interviews in the Windsor Star, Chatham Daily Newsor Queen’s JournalListen to his interview on CBC Windsor Morning.

Want to read the book? Buy it here!


About Ray Robertson:

Ray Robertson is the author of the novels Home MoviesHeroesMoody FoodGently Down the StreamWhat Happened LaterDavidI Was There The Night He Died, and 1979 as well as the non-fiction collections Lives of the Poets (with Guitars), Mental Hygiene: Essays on Writers and Writing and Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live, which was short-listed for the Hilary Weston Prize for non-fiction and long-listed for the Charles Taylor Prize for non-fiction. Born and raised in Southwestern Ontario, he lives in Toronto.