Every year since 1988, the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF) has celebrated the best in Quebec English-language literature, and this year was no exception at its November 20 event. Part fête, part opportunity for all the Quebec writers, publishers, and translators to get together and raise a glass to their year-long efforts, the QWF Literary Awards Gala is “the best award ceremony in Canada,” according to Taras Grescoe, winner of the Mavis Gallant Prize for Nonfiction for his latest book, Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile.

Graham Fraser, commissioner of Official Languages in Canada, remarked in his opening speech that, thanks to writers such as Hugh MacLennan and Mordecai Richler, Canadian literature was born in Montreal, a “center for cultural talent and energy.” Energy, he concluded, that the community gathered to celebrate on Tuesday.

The C$2,000 literary awards cover all genres and this year’s winners included:

  • The Concordia University First Book Prize: Alice Petersen for All the Voices Cry (Biblioasis).
  • The QWF Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature: Catherine Austen for 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 (James Lorimer & Company Ltd).
  • The A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry: Oana Avasilichioaei for We, Beasts (Wolsak and Wynn Publishers).
  • The Cole Foundation Prize for Translation: Éric Fontaine for T’es con, point (Stanké), a translation of You Comma Idiot (Goose Lane Editions) by Doug Harris.

Another notable winner this year is Rawi Hage, author of Carnival (House of Anansi Press), who won the Paragraph Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. Not only did Hage’s two previous novels, De Niro’s Game and Cockroach, win the same prize in 2006 and 2008, respectively, but De Niro’s Game also won the 2008 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the most lucrative literary prize in the world for a single novel.

The QWF Literary Awards Gala also gives prizes to the winner of the Quebec Writing Competition and the best submission to carte blanche, the QWF’s online literary magazine. These are Harold Hoefle for his story “Ride” (Quebec Writing Competition) and Heather Davis for “Aria” (3Macs carte blanche Prize).

Finally, Steve Luxton, publisher of DC Books, won the QWF Community Award. Indeed, for more than 35 years, Luxton has made invaluable contributions as a teacher, mentor, editor, publisher, and writer in the literary community of Quebec.