The Figgs makes the Leacock Medal for Humour Shortlist

6.May.2019

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.

 



27.April.2019

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.



23.April.2019

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/

 



3.April.2019

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/



02.February.2019

Eric Volmers, of the Calgary Herald came to chat with us about current and future books. He writes:

“A self-help book. A very graphic graphic novel. Tales about northern Ontario murders and Toronto urbanites. These are just the latest entries in Freehand’s eclectic catalogue, which over the years has also included poetry, hard-hitting memoirs, experimental short-story collections, historical fiction and even a Giller shortlister. It was announced earlier this week that Abu Bakr al Rabeeah’s memoir, Homes: A Refugee Story, written with Winnie Yeung, has been shortlisted for CBC’s Canada Reads. Historically, landing on that list has proven to be a significant boon for both author and publisher alike and should only strengthen Freehand’s long-standing reputation as a little publisher that punches far above its weight.”

Read the full article here: Independent Calgary Publisher Builds Up Eclectic Successful Catalogue



31.January.2019

Homes: A Refugee Story, by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winne Yeung, is a Canada Reads contender and will be defended by Chuck Comeau, drummer from the band, Simple Plan and founder of the Simple Plan Foundation, which is devoted to helping young people in need — from suicide prevention, to poverty, mental health awareness, musical education and drug addiction. The debates will take place between March 25 and 28, 2019

Homes follows the life of the al Rabeeah family, who left their home in Iraq in hopes of a safer life. They moved to Homs, Syria. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was just ten years old when civil war broke out on the streets around him. Homes is a remarkable true account of growing up in a war zone and ultimately finding safety in Canada, told from Abu Bakr’s perspective. It is a story that he had a deep-seated desire to share with Canadians.

Winnie Yeung has expertly crafted this story, drawing on countless hours of interviews with Abu Bakr and his family. The result is a beautifully-written, eye-opening book that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.  In an interview with CBC books, Yeung reflected on the process of helping to tell the al Rabeeah family’s story: “Listening became the thing that I had to learn how to do…. To be able to just sit back and be quiet and let Abu Bakr tell the story that he needed to…. Now I’m realizing that is the best gift that we can give to anyone who’s going through any kind of trauma, big or small, just to listen.”

This is the second major accolade for Homes since it was published in May, 2018. In October, it was also nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction.

Canada Reads is an annual “Battle of Books” that airs on CBC radio and is hosted by Ali Hassan. Taking place at the end of March, it is a week of debates where five Canadian celebrities each champion one book that they think every Canadian should read. Every day, the panellists vote one book out of the debates until there is a single book left standing. The other contenders are:

  • Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, translated by Rhonda Mullins, defended by Yanic Truesdale
  • Brother by David Chariandy, defended by Lisa Ray
  • By Chance Alone by Max Eisen, defended by Ziya Tong
  • The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong, defended by Joe Zee


12.December.2018

Two Roads Home and Homes on the 49th Shelf‘s Books of the Year Lists

Two Roads Home by Daniel Griffin was on the Fiction List: “It interested me to consider how people can go from peaceful protest to violent acts, so for sure that moral grey zone was important. But for me the answer to why and how a group of smart, educated young people turn to violence took more imagination and soul searching than it did research.” Read Griffin’s conversation with Trevor Corkum here.

Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung was on the Non-Fiction List: “It interested me to consider how people can go from peaceful protest to violent acts, so for sure that moral grey zone was important. But for me the answer to why and how a group of smart, educated young people turn to violence took more imagination and soul searching than it did research.” Read Kerry Clare’s recommendation here.



December.10.2018

Keith Maillard’s Twin Studies on the Globe and Mail’s Top 100 Books of 2018 List

“Keith Maillard’s long-awaited new novel opens with an e-mail from twins Jamie and Devon to the Interdisciplinary Twin Studies Program at a Vancouver university. Despite weighing in at 576 pages, it never flags. It turned out to be the perfect length for this story of gender and sexual fluidity and the emergence of one unconventional family.”—Globe and Mail

You can read the full story here.