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Rachel Manley's 'The Black Peacock' shortlisted for Canadian literary honour

Published:Tuesday | May 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Rachel Manley speaking about her grandmother, Edna Manley.

Renowned author Rachel Manley recently did a reading of her first fictional novel - The Black Peacock (Cormorant Books) - during the 2018 launch of the Calabash Literary Festival. Best known for her historical trilogy, Manley's aptitude for poetic and resounding story-telling has caught the attention of the organisers of the 42nd annual First Novel Award.

The Black Peacock has been selected as one of six finalists for the annual award, which takes place on May 22 at the Toronto Reference Library in Toronto, Canada. Manley told The Gleaner that she felt honoured by the news.




"Writing is such a lonely process that it is always rewarding to get positive feedback - as a finalist, yes, but also when one receives a letter or phone call that as a writer, one has touched a reader's mind and heart, [it] is a great feeling. I don't think appreciation adds up to another person's clout, but it certainly makes me feel good," she added.

The First Novel Award celebrates the achievements of first-time Canadian novelists. This year's finalists will each receive CDN$4,000 (J$390,000) in cash and prizes, and the winner will receive additional prizes totalling over CDN$40,000 ($4 million).

"Every year, the First Novel Award nominees raises the bar with their outstanding debut novels," said Alexandre Gagnon, vice-president of Amazon Canada and Amazon Mexico.

When asked if she intends to create new fiction, Manley quipped: "Not really. I think I'll go bungee jumping next time. Apart from bungee jumping? I'm writing a memoir - back to non-fiction."

Other shortlisted novels are The Boat People by Sharon Bala (McClelland & Stewart), The Bone Mother by David Demchuk (ChiZine Publications), American War by Omar El Akkad (McClelland & Stewart), The Water Beetles by Michael Kaan (Goose Lane Editions), and Dazzle Patterns by Alison Watt (Freehand Books).