Cary Fagan’s The Student longlisted for the Toronto Book Award

The Student by Cary Fagan has been longlisted for the City of Toronto Book Award, which honours authors of books of literary or artistic merit that are evocative of Toronto. The annual awards offer $15,000 in prize money: finalists receive $1,000 and the winning author is awarded $10,000.

The 2019 Toronto Book Awards will be handed out in October at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library. Toronto Book Awards produces a full day of programming at Word on the Street (Harbourfront Centre) in September, in addition to a special Toronto Public Library reading, yet to be announced.

The Student is a novella that offers two snapshots of Toronto in the 1950s and the 2000s—time periods that were pivotal in steering the city’s cultural development. During these times, Toronto was developing in leaps and bounds—but many faced obstacles. The fights to overcome them—the women who broke their way into the higher levels of academia, the activists who pushed for the legalization of same-sex marriage—have had a huge influence on the city. The Student is a love letter to the people—like Fagan’s protagonist Miriam Moscowitz—who, in trying to overcome the constraints of their times, shaped Toronto.

Read more about the award here: www.toronto.ca/city-government/awards-tributes/awards/toronto-book-awards/

Read more about the book here: alllitup.ca/Blog/2019/Where-in-Canada-A-history-of-Toronto-s-cultural-scene



The Canadian Jewish News reviews The Student

Bill Gladstone thinks The Student is Cary Fagan’s best novel yet!:

“Toronto author Cary Fagan’s latest novel, The Student, seems like one of his best. It has the agreeable quality of being both simple and deep, with prose as clear as a smooth pond whose waters go to impressive depths.”

Read more here:  https://www.cjnews.com/culture/books-and-authors/fagan-exceeds-expectations-with-the-student


The Literary Review of Canada reviews Cary Fagan’s The Student

Kevin Keystone’s considers the struggles faced by his mother’s generation— and his own — in his attentive review of The Student:

“…with The Student, Fagan has created something real. Not because he seemingly wrote about my mother, nor because he
somehow included me. And not just because of the countless 1950s Jewish Toronto nostalgies and his carefully chosen, vivid details. It is the richness of his characters, his insistence on revealing their full humanity, that resonates from one generation to the next. The truth of their struggles, the pain of their suffering, their resistance to — and activism in shaping — the society and history pressing in around them.
Fagan has created an accurate portrait of two key moments in history. Even those of us who weren’t there can feel it.”

This review appeared in the June 2019 issue of the Literary Review of Canada: https://reviewcanada.ca/


Sharon Chisvin has written a thoughtful review of The Student for the Winnipeg Free Press, and focuses on the books’ brilliant protagonist, Miriam Moscowitz:

“Miriam is … at the heart of Cary Fagan’s lovely new novel The Student. Fagan is a children’s book author and a Writers’ Trust and Giller Prize nominated novelist. He lives in Toronto, where this novel is set, first in 1957 and later in 2005.

Fagan captures both these eras with precision, touching on the fashions and fads, political climate and culture, and issues and ethics that define each time period. While social justice activism and gay rights figure heavily in the latter era, not-so-subtle racism and misogyny prevail during Miriam’s youthful days.”

Read more here: www.winnipegfreepress.com


The Figgs makes the Leacock Medal for Humour Shortlist


Ali Bryan is among three Canadian writers with books on the shortlist for the 2019 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. Her novel, The Figgs (Freehand Books, 2018) is competing against two memoirs—Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir by Mark Critch and Boy Wonders by Cathal Kelly—to be named the funniest new book in Canada.

The medal, which is accompanied by a $15,000 prize, will be presented at a gala dinner hosted by Ian Ferguson in Orillia, Ontario, on June 8, 2019. The three finalists were chosen by judges from across Canada from 68 books published in 2018.

ABOUT THE STEPHEN LEACOCK MEMORIAL MEDAL FOR HUMOUR: The prestigious Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, also known as the Leacock Medal, has been awarded annually since 1947 for the best Canadian book of literary humour published in the previous year. The award has attained an international reputation and is the only one of its kind for Canadian humour writing. Past winners include Jennifer Craig (Gone to Pot), Susan Juby (Republic of Dirt), Cassie Stocks (Dance, Gladys, Dance), Patrick DeWitt (The Sisters Brothers) and Will Ferguson (Beyond Belfast). More information can be found at www.leacock.ca.



Hummingbird, by Devin Krukoff, wins the 2019 Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award

Hummingbird, by Devin Krukoff, has won the 2019 Regina Public Library Book of the Year Award at the Saskatchewan Book Awards. This award is presented annually to a Saskatchewan author, or authors, for the best newly-published book, judged on the quality of writing and the quality of presentation, including visual appeal, illustrations, and photography.


Ali Bryan’s The Figgs is longlisted for the 72nd Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, which is awarded annually to the funniest book in published the previous year. This year the winner will be announced and the medal will be awarded to one of the three short-listed finalists at our Gala Dinner on June 8, 2019 in Orillia, Ontario. For more information, go to https://www.leacock.ca/



Homes: A Refugee Story is a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

The finalists for the 2018 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing have been announced. Homes: A Refugee Story (Freehand Books), by Alberta authors Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung, is one of the five books that could win the $25,000 award. The winner will be announced in Ottawa on May 15 at Politics and the Pen 2019.

The Jury for the 2018 Award (André Picard, Angela Sterritt, and Chris Turner) stated: “The Syrian Civil War is a humanitarian catastrophe with global political consequences. In Homes, Winnie Yeung gives the crisis a tender, unforgettable human face, working with Abu Bakr al Rabeeah to detail his flight from the bombed-out streets of Homs to the snowy avenues of Edmonton. This extraordinary story is about the resilience of family in the face of profound terror; Yeung writes with a deceptively simple, meticulously observed eye and novelistic attention to plot and character. As Canadians grapple with the complexities of welcoming thousands of refugees, they would do well to read the powerfully affecting story of Homes.”

About the book: Homes: A Refugee Story began as an after-school project with Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and his English language arts teacher, Winnie Yeung. It chronicles the struggles of the al Rabeeah family, who left their home in Iraq for Syria in hope of a safer life – just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtaposition of growing up as a typical teenager in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends. Homes was a 2019 Canada Reads contender (and winner of the audience vote) and a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. It was also the April 2019 pick for the Big Library Read, the world’s biggest digital book club.

About the Award: Established in honour of the outspoken and popular MP from Windsor, Ontario, the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing is awarded annually for an exceptional book of literary nonfiction, written by a Canadian, that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers. Sponsored by CN, the prize is awarded annually at the Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa. Past winners include Tanya Talaga, Kamal Al-Solaylee, John Ibbitson, Anna Porter, and Jane Jacobs. The other finalists for the 2018 award are: Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand against Big Hydro by Sarah Cox; Boys: What it Means to Become a Man by Rachel Giese; Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada’s Energy Future by Jacques Poitras; and Big Lonely Doug: The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees by Harley Rustad.

More information about the award and finalists can be found at www.writerstrust.com/awards/shaughnessy-cohen-prize-for-political-writing.

CBC Books has been talking a lot about Homes: A Refugee Story. Here’s a round-up of coverage surrounding the Canada Reads selection:

  • Winnie Yeung and Abu Bakr al Rabeeah will be traveling to Corner Brook, Newfoundland on March 20 to give a talk to The Association of New Canadians and to be interviewed by Bernice Hillier of Newfoundland Morning
  • Highlands School and CBC Radio Edmonton are presenting:
    • a student book club and discussion. Excerpts will be aired on CBC
    • a student art contest and creative writing contest. The winners will be posted on the CBC website
  • Shelagh Rogers interviewed Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung on The Next Chapter (Monday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 16)
  • Syndicated interviews with Abu Bakr and Winnie on CBC’s afternoon shows across Canada (Tuesday, Feb. 19)
  • Features with the Canada Reads champion for Homes, Chuck Comeau:

Homes: A Refugee Story has been selected as OverDrive’s Big Library Read ebook for April 2019. From April 1–15, patrons of more than 19,000 libraries around the world can borrow, read and discuss the ebook with no waitlists or holds. It is the first Canadian book to be selected for this program.

Homes chronicles the struggles of the al Rabeeah family who left their home in Iraq for Syria in hope of a safer life – just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtaposition of growing up as a typical teenager in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends. Homes is a 2019 Canada Reads contender and 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award finalist for nonfiction. It was chosen for the Big Library Read by a popular vote of readers and librarians worldwide.

“It brings such joy to Abu Bakr and me that his wish of wanting to tell the world of Syria’s plight is being fulfilled in such a far-reaching way,” said Homes author Winnie Yeung. “For this is the magic of books: they don’t just feed our imaginations, they build bridges of understanding. The relationship of sharing, receiving and honoring each other is the true gift of storytelling —something I am so grateful to be a partner in.”

About Big Library Read: OverDrive, the leading library lending platform for ebooks, audiobooks and magazines facilitates this international reading program that simultaneously connects millions of readers around the world. The program began in 2013 and Homes: A Refugee story in the 18th selection. 90 percent of public libraries in North America participate; only a library card from a participating library system is required to take part. Readers can join an online discussion about the book at https://discuss.biglibraryread.com/