The East Coast Literary Awards celebrate and promote excellence in writing from Atlantic Canada. The number of titles submitted each year are a testament to the diversity and quality of writing from all four Atlantic provinces. And although jurors have the unenviable task of selecting one winner for each Award, each year's shortlists introduce local, national, and international readers to a tremendous body of work and the vibrant culture of the region.    

- The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, valued at $25,000 for the winning book;
- The JM Abraham Poetry Award, valued at $2,000 for the winning book; and  
- The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award, valued at $2,000 for the winning book.  

Eligible titles are adjudicated by an independent jury recruited and facilitated by WFNS. Submissions are evaluated for their originality, creativity, and quality of writing. One prize will be awarded annually to a winner for each Award. 

2016 East Coast Literary Award Nominees

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award

Reading: Tuesday, May 31st, 2016. 7 PM. Lexicon Books, Lunenburg, NS. 

Marq de Villiers (NS)

Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water(Goose Lane Editions)

Fifteen years after the publication of Water, his influential Governor General’s Award-winning book on the water crisis, Marq de Villiers returns with a clear-eyed assessment of the politics of our most precious resource — from the personal and commercial uses of water to the impact of climate change and global conflicts.

In this refreshing examination of the fate and future of water, de Villiers takes on some of the biggest questions and shibboleths of the century. Who owns water? Is access to water a human right? Who is responsible for keeping water clean and ensuring it gets to the people who need it most? Is privatization of ownership and supply networks an evil or an extension of the public trust?


Examining how political ideologies often obscure the underlying issues, de Villiers looks clearly toward a sustainable water future. In this enlightening, and often provocative book, de Villiers points toward the solutions to the so-called global crisis, indicating that the solutions to water issues are fundamentally local and regional and can most effectively be addressed through local, rather than global, action.

Marq de Villiers is an award-winning writer and journalist. He is the author of fifteen books, including Water: The Fate of our Most Precious Resource; Sahara: The Life of the Great Desert; Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather; and Sable Island: The Curious Story of a Dune Adrift in the Atlantic. In 2010, he was appointed to the Order of Canada. He lives in Eagle Head, on Nova Scotia’s south shore. 

Dean Jobb (NS)

Empire of Deception (HarperCollins)

In the tradition of bestselling books such as The Devil in the White City and The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, Empire of Deception combines investigative journalism and spellbinding storytelling to examine one of the greatest con men of the twentieth century It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. As Model Ts rumbled down Michigan Avenue, gang war shootings announced Al Capone’s rise to underworld domination. Bedecked partygoers thronged to the Drake Hotel’s opulent banquet rooms, corrupt politicians held court in thriving speakeasies, and the frenzy of stock market gambling was rampant. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, who enticed hundreds of people (who should have known better) to invest as much as $30 million-upwards of $400 million today-in phantom timberland and nonexistent oil wells in Panama.  It was an ingenious deceit, one that out-ponzied Charles Ponzi himself, who only a few years earlier had been arrested for a pyramid scheme. Leo had a good run-his was perhaps the longest fraud in history-and when his enterprise finally collapsed in 1923, he vanished. The Cook County state’s attorney, a man whose lust for power equaled Leo’s own lust for money, began an international manhunt that lasted almost a year. When finally apprehended, Leo was living a life of luxury in Nova Scotia under the assumed identity of a book dealer and literary critic. A salacious court hearing followed, and his mysterious death in a Chicago prison rivaled the rest of his almost too-bizarre-to-believe life. Destined to become an instant historical true crime classic, Empire of Deception is timeless and riveting.

Dean Jobb, an award-winning author and journalist, teaches creative nonfiction and journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Empire of Deception, his seventh book, was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and was named the Chicago Writers Association’s Nonfiction Book of the Year. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Globe and Mail, National Post, Canada’s History and other major publications in Canada, the U.S., Ireland and Britain. Visit him at www.deanjobb.com

Gary L. Saunders (NS)

My Life With Trees (Gaspereau Press)

Born in northeast Newfoundland to a family with deep roots in forestry, trapping, and guiding, Gary Saunders’ love of the natural world developed early and stayed with him throughout his life. Originally trained as a boots-on-the-ground forester, Saunders’ passion for painting and writing led him to also study the fine arts and to take a job writing and editing for the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests, producing newsletters and educational material for the general public. Later, as a freelance writer, his illustrated articles about trees and rural living would become a regular feature for over three decades in several regional magazines.

At heart, this book is an unconventional memoir. While organized by tree species like a reference book, Saunders’ essays actually impart equal parts natural and personal history. And like the best sylvan essayists of earlier generations (Thoreau, Leopold), Saunders draws greater truths about our relationship with nature–and with each other–out of what on first glance might appear to be recitals of botanical facts or yarns about adventures past. A close reading of this book promises not only to expand one’s understanding of the ecology of the forest, but also to offer a rich, evocative model for how we might better live our lives with trees.

Originally trained as a forester, Gary L. Saunders went on to study fine arts at Mount Allison University and the Ontario College of Art before taking a position with the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests extension program. Here, he honed his skills as an editor and writer. Saunders has been a frequent contributor to periodicals such as Atlantic Advocate, Rural Delivery, Atlantic Forestry Review and Saltscapes and is the author of numerous books, ranging from guidebooks (Trees of Nova Scotia and At a Glance: A Guide to Identifying and Managing Nova Scotia Hardwoods) to essays (Alder Music and September Christmas) to illustrated children’s books (The Brook and the Woodcutter). He lives in Clifton, Nova Scotia.

JM Abraham Poetry Award

Reading: Wednesday, June 1, 2016, 7 PM. The Box of Delights Bookshop, Wolfville, NS. 

Phillip Crymble (NB)

Not Even Laughter (Salmon Poetry)

A clearance bin of corner-cut records, remaindered paperbacks, and canisters of faded film, Not Even Laughter strives to rescue, celebrate, and preserve the works and sensibilities of those whose ideas and visions have been long overlooked by posterity. Crymble’s technical acumen, ear for music, and emotional sincerity are the adhesive agents that bring together the vernacular ethnographies, high-brow ekphrastics, tender elegies, forlorn love lyrics, and acutely observed accounts of plain and seemingly unremarkable domestic experience in this formidable debut.

Phillip Crymble received his MFA from the University of Michigan, and now lives in Fredericton where he divides his time between pursuing a PhD in Literature at UNB and serving as a Poetry Editor for The Fiddlehead. His poems have appeared in the 2011 Montreal Prize Global Poetry Anthology, The Malahat Review, CV2, The Literary Review of Canada, Riddle Fence, The Rotary Dial, The New Quarterly, Vallum, Arc, Poetry Ireland Review and elsewhere. Not Even Laughter was recently nominated for a New Brunswick Book Award in Poetry.


Sue Goyette (NS)

The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl (Gaspereau Press)

In 2006, a four-year-old Massachusetts girl died from prolonged exposure to a cocktail of drugs that a psychiatrist had prescribed to treat ADHD and bipolar disorder; her parents were convicted of her murder. In The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl, Sue Goyette strives to confront the senselessness of this story, answering logic’s failure to encompass the complexity of mental illness, poverty and child neglect (or that of our torn and tangled social ‘safety net’) with a mythopoetic, sideways use of image and language. Avoiding easy indignation, Goyette portrays the court proceedings’ usual suspects in unusual ways (the judge, the jury, the lawyers, the witnesses and the girl’s troubled parents), evokes the ghost of the girl, personifies poverty as a belligerent bully and offers an unexpected emblem of love and hope in a bear. Like the utterances of a Shakespearean fool, Goyette’s quirky, often counter-logical poems offer a more potent vision of reality than any documentary account, her eulogy for a girl society let down renewing the prospect for empathy and change.

Sue Goyette has published four collections of poetry, The True Names of Birds, Undone, Outskirts, and Ocean, which was a finalist for the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize. She also published a novel, Lures, in 2002. She has won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, the JM Abraham Poetry Award, the CBC Literary Prize for Poetry, the Earle Birney Prize and the Bliss Carman Award. Goyette lives in Halifax where she teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University.

John Wall Barger (NS)

The Book of Festus (Palimpsest Press)

Festus wakes inside a myth—on a wharf in Halifax, Nova Scotia— and recalls nothing but a bicycle. As he looks for it, he thinks the city’s thoughts. Upon a sidewalk over a buried river, he remembers what the city remembers. He steps past a skateboard park to a Mi’kmaq lagoon. He follows 17th century pioneer cattle to a fast food restaurant. In these poems, every object has a voice; every thing is awake. A girl he once knew steps out of the fragments. Festus is an anagogic man, loser-hero of the first city, Ur, Halifax. The Book of Festus is a shattered fable, a city’s lucid dream of itself.

John Wall Barger’s poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Cincinnati Review, Subtropics, The Malahat Review, Best Canadian Poetry and The Montreal Prize Global Poetry Anthology. His second collection, Hummingbird, was a finalist for the 2013 Raymond Souster Award. 

Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Reading: Thursday, June 2, 2016, 7 PM. Lane's Privateer Inn, Liverpool, NS.

Mark Anthony Jarman (NB)

Knife Party at the Hotel Europa (Goose Lane Editions)

One of Canada’s literary treasures, Mark Anthony Jarman, returns with a book of moving, surreal, and often funny tales of a man’s quest for himself. A.S. Byatt says that his writing is “extraordinary, his stories gripping,” and in this gorgeous new collection, Jarman delivers something new once again.

A man travels to Italy to escape the memory of love lost and a marriage ended. He passes through sun-drenched landscapes of cliffs and seaside paradises, while the corpses of refugees wash up on the beach; he parties with the young and beautiful Italians he meets on the train while a man bleeds to death in the hallway. A teenage thief prowls the roof of the tourist hotel at night; an embassy is bombed; holy statues come alive to roam in a gang stealing used restaurant grease.

Experience Italy as you have never seen it. Experience Italy as only Jarman could imagine it. In vivid, sensuous prose, his stories circle and overlap in surprising, weird, and wonderful ways. Tangents turn out to be crucial, allusions are powerful, and no one — not the protagonist, not the writer, and not the reader — is left unchanged.

Mark Anthony Jarman's writing runs the gamut from fiction to poetry to travel writing. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he has been shortlisted for the O. Henry Prize and has won the Gold National Magazine Award in non-fiction, the Maclean-Hunter Endowment Award, and the Jack Hodgins Fiction Prize. He is the author of 19 Knives, New Orleans is Sinking, Dancing Nightly in the Tavern, and the travel book Ireland’s Eye. His novel Salvage King Ya! is on amazon.ca’s list of 50 Essential Canadian Books. He teaches at the University of New Brunswick and is the fiction editor of The Fiddlehead.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi (NL)

The Devil You Know (HarperCollins)

The year is 1993. Rookie reporter Evie Jones is working the crime beat in a city terrified by a serial rapist and a growing number of missing and murdered young girls. As she covers this story, Evie is haunted by the unsolved murder eleven years earlier of her own best friend, Lianne Gagnon. The suspected killer, a repeat offender named Robert Cameron, was never apprehended, turning Lianne’s case cold.

Now twenty-one and living alone for the first time, Evie becomes driven to find out what really happened to Lianne. But every clue she uncovers seems to lead to an unimaginable conclusion. As she gets closer and closer to the truth, Evie is convinced that the killer is still at large—and that he’s coming back for her...

Critically acclaimed author Elisabeth de Mariaffi delivers a spine-tingling story about secrets long buried and an obsession that cannot be controlled.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi is the critically acclaimed author of two books: her short story collection How to Get Along with Women was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and shortlisted for the ReLit Award, and her debut novel, the literary thriller The Devil You Know, is both a Globe and Mail Best Book and lucky number 13 on the NP100, the year end list at the National Post. De Mariaffi’s poetry and short fiction have been widely published and praised in Canada, and have been shortlisted for the National Magazine Award. Born and raised in Toronto, she now makes her home in St. John’s, Newfoundland. 

R.W. Gray (NB)

Entropic (NeWest)

In this collection of stories, author and filmmaker R.W. Gray  finds the place where the beautiful, the strange, and the surreal all meet — sometimes meshing harmoniously, sometimes colliding with terrible violence, launching his characters into a redefined reality.

A lovestruck man discovers the secret editing room where his girlfriend erases all her flaws; a massage artist finds that she has a gift, but is uncertain of the price; a beautiful man sets out to be done with beauty; and a gay couple meets what appear to be younger versions of themselves, learning that history can indeed repeat itself.

R.W. Gray’s poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. His first collection of short stories, Crisp, was published by NeWest Press. An award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter, he has had over ten short films produced. He lives in Fredericton, where he is a professor of film and screenwriting in the English Department at the University of New Brunswick.

 2015 East Coast Literary Award Winners

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award

Kaleigh Trace (NS)

Hot, Wet, & Shaking: How I Learned To Talk About Sex (Invisible Publishing)

JM Abraham Poetry Award

Susan Paddon (NS)

Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths (Brick Books)

Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Darren Greer (NS)

Just Beneath My Skin (Cormorant)