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Retired bricklayer among six debut novelists vying for $60K prize

TORONTO — A septuagenarian retired bricklayer is among the six debut novelists in the running for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. Brian Thomas Isaac, who was born in 1950 on the Okanagan Indian Reserve in southcentral B.C.
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A septuagenarian retired bricklayer is among the six debut novelists in the running for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. Brian Thomas Isaac, who was born in 1950 on the Okanagan Indian Reserve in southcentral B.C., is a finalist for the $60,000 prize for his coming-of-age story, "All the Quiet Places," published by Brindle & Glass.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Brian Thomas Isaac, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

TORONTO — A septuagenarian retired bricklayer is among the six debut novelists in the running for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Brian Thomas Isaac, who was born in 1950 on the Okanagan Indian Reserve in southcentral B.C., is a finalist for the $60,000 prize for his coming-of-age story, "All the Quiet Places," published by Brindle & Glass.

Also on the short list is writer and translator Aimee Wall for the Giller-longlisted "We, Jane," from Book*hug Press, exploring rural access to abortion in Newfoundland.

Other contenders include Métis-Ukrainian writer and educator Conor Kerr for his Edmonton-set story about Indigenous youth, "Avenue of Champions," from Nightwood Editions, and Métis and nêhiyaw author Lisa Bird-Wilson with her book about an adopted woman's search for her Indigenous identity, "Probably Ruby," published by Doubleday Canada.

Vancouver-raised Pik-Shuen Fung is nominated for her portrait of a Chinese-Canadian family grappling with grief in "Ghost Forest," published by Strange Light, while Ottawa-based Emily Austin is recognized for her story of an atheist lesbian woman who winds up working as a receptionist at a Catholic Church in "Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead," from Atria Books.

The prize, which is co-presented by Amazon and the Walrus Foundation, will be awarded at an in-person ceremony on June 1.

The winner will receive $60,000, while the runners-up will each receive $6,000.

Established in 1976, previous winners of the First Novel Award include Michael Ondaatje, W.P. Kinsella, Nino Ricci, David Bezmozgis, Andre Alexis and Madeleine Thien.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press