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Toronto author Andre Alexis wins second Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

A 2017 photo of Andre Alexis.
A 2017 photo of Andre Alexis. Chris Young / The Canadian Press

Toronto author Andre Alexis has won his second Writers’ Trust fiction prize.

Alexis received the $50,000 honour at a Toronto ceremony Tuesday evening for “Days by Moonlight” from Coach House Books.

The novel tracks a road trip through a warped version of southern Ontario where small towns are haunted by strange practices, such as a law prohibiting black people from talking during the day.

READ MORE: Andre Alexis wins $100,000 Giller Prize

It’s the fourth work to be published as part of Alexis’ “quincunx” of five thematically linked novels. The second instalment in the series, “Fifteen Dogs,” swept up the Writers’ Trust fiction award and Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2015.

In their citation, the jury hailed “Days by Moonlight” as a “funny, moving, and wholly original take on the quest narrative that liberates the imagination with a loud whoop of joy.”

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Alexis is among seven wordsmiths who were honoured at the 2019 Writers’ Trust Awards, which handed out a total of more than $260,000 in prizes.

The $60,000 non-fiction prize went to Winnipeg’s Jenny Heijun Wills for “Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.”

The memoir, published by McClelland & Stewart, follows Wills’ journey from Montreal to Seoul to connect with her biological parents.

READ MORE: Victoria-based author Esi Edugyan wins second Giller prize for ‘Washington Black’

The runners-up in the fiction and non-fiction categories each receive $5,000.

Toronto-based Olive Senior was decorated with the $25,000 Matt Cohen Award celebrating a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer.

Acclaimed Lebanese-Canadian author Rawi Hage received the $25,000 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award, which is given to a mid-career writer in recognition of their past and future contributions to fiction.

Stephen Collis, who lives near Vancouver, took home the $25,000 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize honouring a mid-career poet for mastery of the form.

The $25,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People was awarded to Susin Nielsen of Vancouver.

READ MORE: Miriam Toews wins Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

Angelique Lalonde, who grew up in Ktunaxa territory in British Columbia, won the $10,000 honour for best short fiction published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine.

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Her story “Pooka,” about an artist wrestling with his mental health, was published by PRISM International, which was also awarded $2,000.

The two other short-story finalists each receive $1,000.

During the awards ceremony, speakers paid tribute to novelist and environmentalist Graeme Gibson, who died in September at age 85.

In 1976, Gibson and other prominent writers – including longtime partner Margaret Atwood – founded the Writers’ Trust of Canada to support the longevity of Canadian literary culture.