Eleanor Catton wins the Amazon.ca First Novel Award — 02.05.11

Congratulations to Eleanor Catton (New Generation artist) who has won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award

Emerging young writer Eleanor Catton (Arts Foundation New Generation artist) has won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

Eleanor won the CDN$7,500 prize for The Rehearsal  which explores a high school caught up in a sex scandal involving a teacher and a student.

Now based the USA, Eleanor is an adjunct professor of creative writing at the University of Iowa. She faced stiff competition for the prize, which honours first-time novelists and is now in its 35th year.

The other nominees for 2010 were:

  • Montreal-based Newfoundland writer Kathleen Winter, for her acclaimed novel 
  • Regina writer Dianne Warren for Cool Water, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in November.
  • Man Asian Literary Prize-winner Miguel Syjuco of Montreal, for Ilustrado.
  • Toronto's Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall for Ghosted.

Past winners of the prize include Joseph Boyden, Michael Ondaatje, Rohinton Mistry and Anne Michaels.

Judge Stuart Woods, editor of Quill & Quire, described the book as "everything a first novel ought to be: bold, inventive, self-possessed. The novel, which follows the aftermath of a sexual scandal at a private school, is unlike any coming of age story you're likely to encounter, offering keen insight into the worlds of high art, music, and theatre while brilliantly decoding the rituals of adolescent life. In the hands of a less talented writer, The Rehearsal could easily have become a tiresome experiment, but Catton has imbued every page, every paragraph, with wit and insight."