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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you miss our Facebook livestream earlier this month? Watch below for a conversation on publishing and bookselling in the time of pandemic.
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
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.
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!
Check out the Book Fairies’ blog post.
“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)
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.
“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 read the book? Buy it here!
About Ray Robertson:
Ray Robertson is the author of the novels Home Movies, Heroes, Moody Food, Gently Down the Stream, What Happened Later, David, I 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.
Every year the American Booksellers Association (ABA) puts on a big convention for booksellers to meet one another, talk with publishers, and share tricks of the trade. This year it was in Baltimore, Maryland, and Biblioasis had a blast. Booksellers are pretty much our favourite people in the world, so we are always excited when we get a chance to meet them face to face and share with them the books we’re excited about for the year. We brought with us ARCs for 2020 titles and buttons, as we often do, but this year we made something a little bit different … bookseller trading cards!
Because booksellers are our heroes, we decided to show our appreciation by creating our first deck of nine bookseller trading cards, complete with stats, stickers, and gum. Artist Owen Swain illustrated the cards, and our Managing Editor, Vanessa, designed the cards and found the stats. We sat around our front table wrapping them up and chewing bubble gum during the week preceding Winter Institute.
And when they got there, they made a splash. Shelf Awareness tweeted about them and wrote about us in their newsletter. Lit Hub wrote about us, saying “Do you even love books if you haven’t collected all of these independent bookseller cards?” Then Ron Charles included a mention about them in his Washington Post newsletter “Book Club.”
We had such fun making them and watching everyone trade them. We can’t wait for our next series, coming Indie Bookseller Day 2020! This series will soon be available for purchase on our website.
We kept our fingers crossed and looks like luck is on our side! We’re ecstatic to announce that Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson has been shortlisted for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize!
Author Mark Bourrie expresses his delight and gratitude in a statement: “Every writer hopes to have a day when Margaret Atwood stands on a stage and says their book is one of the five best non-fiction titles of the year. This is my day, and I am so glad that Dan Wells and Janice Zawerbny of Biblioasis were willing to give bad old Radisson a shot. I have lived with this pirate and cannibal for three years now, and I guess he’s going to be with me for a while longer. I think Pierre would have seen the fun in all this, but he probably would have robbed the RBC Taylor Prize winner on the way out of the hall. Every one of the twelve books on the long list was something I would have been proud to have my name on. Just making that list was an honor.”
The RBC Taylor Prize jury, which is comprised of Margaret Atwood, Coral Ann Howells, and Peter Theroux, have this to say about Bush Runner: “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?”
We are extremely pleased that Mark’s book has resonated so well with both audiences and critics. We’d also like to thank all of you for championing the book and keeping it on the best seller lists for so long!
We won’t be uncrossing our fingers just yet: the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize will be announced on March 2, 2020.
2019 has been a spectacular year for Biblioasis titles on awards lists. Check out some of the recognition they got this year.
Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie — Longlisted for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize
This news is still very fresh, so excuse us while we jump up and down a little. 2020 is the last year the RBC Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction will be awarded, and we are ecstatic that Bush Runner has made the longlist. All our fingers and toes are crossed that it makes the shortlist on January 8—it completely deserves it.
The jurors for this year’s prize are Margaret Atwood, Coral Ann Howells and Peter Theroux. The jury noted that “Distilling these diverse riches, embracing the social, personal, political and historical, into a mere list of ten was a profound but rewarding challenge—our list could have been much longer, and indeed is longer than we were asked for! Readers globally can be thankful for a year of such exceptional Canadian contributions.”
Bush Runner has had an excellent year—national bestseller, rave reviews in The Globe and Mail, Washington Times, and Winnipeg Free Press, among others. Plus it was named one of the Globe and Mail books of the year!
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann — Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize, Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal, Shortlisted for Saltire Prize
If you’ve been following Biblioasis at all this year, you’ll definitely know what a wild ride we’ve had with this title. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, which brought with it a whole slew of reviews, including ones in the New York Times, New Yorker, and more. Then it won the Goldsmiths Prize, was nominated for the Andrew Carnegie Medal, and was shortlisted for the Saltire Prize.
Now it is showing up on too many year-end lists to count, and it deserves every accolade.
But the coolest part of publicizing this book hasn’t been the awards or the press, it’s been the booksellers. So many booksellers have rallied behind this book like we’ve never seen before. Lori Feathers at Interabang Books interviewed Lucy for Lit Hub and went on Minnesota Public Radio to talk about the book. Josh Cook from Porter Square Books has sold almost 100 copies, and if he makes it to 100 before the end of the year, he’s getting a Ducks, Newburyport-themed tattoo! Kyle at Type Books has legendary hand-selling skills—in fact, when we went to Word On the Street this fall, half the people we tried to sell the book to had already purchased one from Kyle. And the list goes on! So thank you, Lucy Ellmann, for writing a book that has brought us closer to our independent bookseller friends.
Late Breaking by K.D. Miller — Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, Nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award, Nominated for the Toronto Book Award
Boy, has this been a year for K.D. Miller! Late Breaking has been on nearly every single major awards list in Canada, and we are so proud of this brilliant book.
People are blown away by K.D.’s “compulsively readable” (CBC Ontario Morning) stories.
When Late Breaking was named a finalist for the GGs, K.D. said, “What an honour! I am so pleased and grateful to be on the Governor General’s list. Also a little surprised. The title story of Late Breaking takes a gently satirical look at the literary prize scene. I really thought I was ruling myself out. But the Trillium, Toronto Book Awards, Giller and now the Governor General’s Awards have seemed to disagree. Thank you.”
We also get a bit of a kick out of seeing the cover—full frontal male nudity and all—on all the awards coverage. The question we always wonder is, “Will they blur it out this time?” Get your copy now!
Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page — Winner of the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
Recognition for this book continued in 2019! You may recall that this Kathy Page’s page-turner won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2018, and this year, it kept up its momentum, going on to win the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.
The jurors called it “A flawlessly executed novel that draws the arc of a man’s life, measured by interruptions of history and the inevitable changes that the years impose on us all. Nimble, engaging and deeply perceptive, Dear Evelyn is wise and widely appealing.”
Already read Dear Evelyn and itching for more Kathy Page. Her novel, The Story of My Face is the latest book in our reSet series. You can purchase it here.
Be With: Letters to a Caregiver by Mike Barnes — Shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award
One of the cool things about the Toronto Book Award is that the list is filled with so many different types of books—there is no specific required genre to be on the list. Mike Barnes’ thoughtful and heart-wrenching book Be With is a prime example of this. It is composed of short reflections, designed for consuming a bit at a time.
Mike got to participate in Word On the Street at the Toronto Book Awards tent as part of the awards promotion and he repeatedly drew a crowd. It’s impossible not to love this little yellow book (and Mike).
Plus, Mike had a blast at the winner ceremony. If you ever get the chance to meet him, ask him about his drink ticket philosophy—it’s sure to amaze.
You can purchase Be With here. Also, did you know that we have published several of Mike’s books, including his collection of poetry, Braille Rainbow, which came out this spring? Check them out here at his author page.,
They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada — Nominated for the Toronto Book Award
Alongside Late Breaking and Be With, Cecil Foster’s book, They Call Me George, was nominated for the Toronto Book Award. This incredible true story is the first in our Untold Lives series, and it has been blowing people away. It received rave reviews in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, The Washington Times, and more! As part of the promotion for this book, Cecil has done various speaking engagements, after which, everyone always wants to buy the book—Cecil is such a natural storyteller.
Donna Bailey Nurse, in a review in the Literary Review of Canada said it well: “Foster has dissected the myth of Canadian tolerance, born of our history as a haven for refugee slaves—exposing instead a past in which the English and French elites fought to create a white nation…Blacks and other Canadians of colour are not merely the beneficiaries of multiculturalism; they are its architects.”
Buy They Call Me George here.
Dream Sequence — Nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
It was super exciting to have TWO titles on the Giller longlist this year, Dream Sequence being one of them. This gorgeously-written novel has been compared to The Great Gatsby by The Times of London. Wall Street Journal said, “The quality of the prose carries the book beyond conventions, as Mr. Foulds is able to conjure, with the unsettling immediacy of a person breathing against your neck, both Henry’s and Kristin’s private fixations and fantasies.”
When the longlist was announced, Adam made this statement: “I am hugely honoured that Dream Sequence has been included on this longlist. It is a particular thrill as a new Canadian to receive this recognition from one of Canada’s most storied cultural institutions.”
Check out Dream Sequence here.
We are extremely honoured to get to publish incredible books like these ones all year long, and we are proud of our authors for these accomplishments. But it’s also important to note that every Biblioasis book is a winner in our books. We believe in every book we publish and want to thank our authors for an incredible 2019!