The Alberta Book Publisher’s Awards were presented at a gala in Edmonton on Friday, September 13. Calgary-based publisher Freehand Books was honoured with four awards. Their book Twin Studies, by Keith Maillard, won Book of the Year in the fiction category; Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung won Book of the Year in the nonfiction category; and All of Us in Our Own Lives by Manjushree Thapa, with design by Natalie Olsen at Kisscut Design, won Cover Design of the Year. To top it off, the press won Publisher of the Year.
Twin Studies is an engrossing, timely, and contemporary novel about the bonds between twins, about sexuality and gender fluidity, and about the messy complexities of modern family life. It is the first new novel in more than a decade by the trailblazing author Keith Maillard, whose book, Two Strand River (published in 1976), was one of the earliest literary novels to star transgender characters.
Homes: A Refugee Story is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone with a desire to tell the world what is truly happening in Syria. Writer Winnie Yeung listened to Abu Bakr al Rabeeah’s story and crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently necessary book that provides a window of understanding. Homes has been hugely successful, both in Canada and on the international stage. It was a Canada Reads book in 2019, and was also the first Canadian book to be chosen for OverDrive’s Big Library Read (the world’s biggest digital book club). In addition, it won the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for a 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award (nonfiction) and the 2019 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.
All of Us in Our Own Lives by Manjushree Thapa is the beautiful story of strangers who shape each other’s lives in fateful ways. It delves deeply into the lives of women and men in Nepal and into the world of international aid. The cover was designed by Natalie Olsen from Kisscut Design.
Freehand Books was created in 2008 with a very simple mandate: to publish excellent Canadian literature. The sixty-plus books represent an aesthetically diverse, award-winning collection of fiction, creative nonfiction, graphic literature and poetry by both established authors and exciting new voices. Book publishing is a multi-faceted process and a wide array of publishing professionals from Alberta work together to produce each book that Freehand puts out. It is the fourth time that Freehand has won Publisher of the Year, having also been recognized in 2009, 2014, and 2016.
The Alberta Book Publishing Awards were established in 1994 by the Book Publishers’ Association of Alberta. Each year, publishers are selected through a peer jury process in up to 14 award categories. This much-anticipated event draws attention to the world-class excellence of Alberta’s publishing industry.
Freehand Books acknowledges the financial support for its publishing program provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Media Fund.