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Prizes, Controversy, and Book-Inspired Fashion: What’s Happening in the Literary World

Happy Friday! After a brief hiatus, we’ve decided to reboot our Literary Round Up feature, compiling all of the important book-related news in one convenient location. We’re hoping to make this a weekly feature again, but in the meantime, let’s catch up on what’s happened in the literary world so far this year.


Let’s start off 2020 by looking back at how Canadians spent their reading time in 2019!

The 2019 Rakuten Kobo Book Report: How and what Canadians read

Toronto – January 9, 2020 – From the influential stories of our teenage years, to the nonfiction titles that help guide us through our careers, the books we read help define us. With 2019 behind us, we took a look at what and how Kobo users in Canada read to come up with the biggest trends in books for our annual Rakuten Kobo Book Report.

In a move that surprised many, Hachette Book Group has acquired more than 1000 titles published by Disney Book Group.

HBG Buys More Than 1,000 Disney Book Group Titles

In a move that dramatically increases its presence in the children’s publishing market, the Hachette Book Group has acquired more than 1,000 titles published by Disney Book Group. The deal involves bestselling authors and award-winners as well as backlist and recently published books plus a number of unpublished titles.


In literary prize news:

The judging panel for Kobo’s Emerging Writer Prize has been announced! Are you a Canadian author who debuted in 2019? You can enter here!!

Marissa Stapley, Tim Caulfield & Andrew Pyper to judge $10K Kobo Emerging Writer Prizes | CBC Books

Bestselling Canadian writers Marissa Stapley, Tim Caulfield and Andrew Pyper have been announced as the 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize judges. The prize annually awards three $10,000 prizes to first-time Canadian writers in the categories of literary fiction, nonfiction and a genre selected each year. This year’s genre category will be speculative fiction.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize has also announced their jury for 2020, and has opened the prize to graphic novels for the first time.

Scotiabank Giller Prize announces 2020 jury and opens the prize to graphic novels for 1st time | CBC Books

Mark Sakamoto, nonfiction writer and past Canada Reads winner, will chair the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury. The five-person panel also includes Canadian novelists Eden Robinson, David Chariandy and Tom Rachman, as well as British critic Claire Armitstead. The Scotiabank Giller Prize is the richest prize in Canadian literature, annually awarding $100,000 to the year’s best work of fiction.

A new annual prize, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, has been announced and will award a female or nonbinary author $150,000!

A new prize will award $150,000 to a female novelist every year.

Here’s some welcome news on this dreary Friday morn: starting in 2022, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, a new annual prize named after the beloved and prolific novelist who died in 2003, will award a whopping $150,000 for a work of fiction published in the previous year by a woman or nonbinary person.

The longlist for the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction has been announced, inevitably adding ten new titles to our TBR list.

Here’s the longlist for the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation has just announced the longlist for their 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the award, which “honors the best published works of fiction by American citizens in a calendar year,” PEN/Faulkner is releasing a longlist of ten titles instead of the usual five finalists.

New Kid by Jerry Craft has won the prestigious Newberry Medal, becoming the first graphic novel to win the oldest children’s book award in the United States.

Graphic novel New Kid wins prestigious Newbery Medal

For the first time, a graphic novel has won the Newbery Medal, the oldest and most prestigious children’s book award in the US. The win places cartoonist Jerry Craft alongside titans of American literature including Madeleine L’Engle, Louis Sachar and Beverly Cleary.

Jack Fairweather has won the Costa Prize for The Volunteer, a biography of Polish resistance fighter Witfold Pilecki.

Costa prize: Jack Fairweather wins book of the year with The Volunteer

The former war reporter Jack Fairweather has won the Costa book of the year award for The Volunteer, his biography of a Polish resistance fighter who voluntarily entered Auschwitz in order to reveal its horrors to the world.


It’s only February 7th and the Lit world has already seen a fair bit of controversy in 2020!

Barnes and Noble faced backlash over an attempt at adding diverse covers to their classics collection.

‘Fake diversity’: Barnes & Noble cancels race-swapped classic covers

Barnes & Noble, America’s largest bookseller, has withdrawn a new series of “diverse” classic book covers following a backlash from writers who say it does nothing to address the publishing industry’s underlying diversity problems. The new “Diverse Editions” series was announced on Tuesday to honor Black History Month and due to hit shelves on Wednesday.

Despite not being released until May, Suzanne Collins’ newest addition to the Hunger Games world, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, has already sparked some controversy. As a big fan of the original trilogy I’m curious to see how this plays out.

Extract from Hunger Games prequel sparks anger among fans

Suzanne Collins’s prequel to The Hunger Games will focus on the early life of her villain Coriolanus Snow, the tyrannical president of Panem, an extract from the forthcoming novel has revealed. Publisher Scholastic has announced a world record first printing of 2.5m copies for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, due to be published in May.

Following the controversy surrounding their title American Dirt, Macmillan has agreed to increase Latinx representation both in house and among the authors they publish.

#DignidadLiteraria, Macmillan Meet to Discuss Latinx Representation In Publishing

Higher-ups from Macmillan met privately in their offices in New York for two hours on Monday with representatives of #DignidadLiteraria, a coalition of Latinx members of the literary, publishing, and academic communities, to discuss the recent controversy over this season’s Flatiron Books lead title, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, and attempt to chart a way forward.


Some other exciting book news:

Designer Stella McCartney is launching a line inspired by Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest novel, We Are The Weather.

Stella McCartney launches collection inspired by Jonathan Safran Foer

From the hats of Hunter S Thompson to the jewellery of Edith Sitwell, fashion has long been inspired by authors’ styles, but Stella McCartney has taken a different tack and designed a capsule collection inspired by the words of the bestselling author Jonathan Safran Foer.

Margaret Atwood will be releasing her first collection poetry in over a decade this November!

Margaret Atwood is publishing new poetry collection, Dearly, in Nov. 2020 | CBC Books

Margaret Atwood, 80, is publishing her first poetry collection in over a decade. Dearly will be released on Nov. 10, 2020. The Handmaid’s Tale author’s new book gathers poems about “absences and endings, ageing and retrospection… gifts and renewals” and draws from the natural and supernatural world.

Anthony Bourdain’s final book will be released this year.

Anthony Bourdain’s final book to be published this year

The final book by renowned chef, travel writer and television host Anthony Bourdain will be published in October, more than two years after he killed himself. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, an illustrated collection of Bourdain’s reflections on his favourite places to visit and dine around the world, has been finished by his longtime assistant Laurie Woolever and will be published on 13 October.

In Celebration of The Oscars on Sunday, Lit Hub released their Book Oscar Nominees! Who do you think will take home the top prize?

If They Gave Oscars to Books, Our 2019 Nominees

The Academy Awards approach. And so, as we’ve done for the past three years, we have been preparing for the Fake Oscars by thinking about the Real Oscars: that’s right, the Book Oscars. Er, the Book Oscars that aren’t the National Book Awards. You can wear a gown to the National Book Awards.

As per the tradition of Literary Roundups Past, we’ll end this on a Staff Pick, although this could change when we launch our 2020 Reading Challenge next week! Stay tuned for that – it’s going to be a lot of fun. Have a great weekend!

Staff Reads and Recommendations:
Joni Di Placido, Author Engagement Specialist

Everything I Know About Love audiobook by Dolly Alderton – Rakuten Kobo

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