By: Morley Walker
A little-known novel set against the end of apartheid in South Africa has been named Manitoba’s book of the year.
Winnipeg writer Meira Cook, best known for her poetry, won the $5,000 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award for The House on Sugarbush Road at the Manitoba Book Awards ceremony Sunday, April 28.
Cook beat out her more prominent competitor, David Bergen, whose novel The Age of Hope walked off with two prizes, the $5,000 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award and the $3,500 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction from the province.
Thirteen awards in total were handed out at the 25th annual event, held this year at the West End Cultural Centre.
Cook’s novel was released in 2012 by Enfield & Wizenty, the literary imprint of Winnipeg-based Great Plains Publications.
Set in Johannesburg during the 1990s, The House on Sugarbush Road focuses on two families, one white and the other black, just after Nelson Mandela has been elected president of racially torn South Africa.
Cook herself immigrated to Canada from South Africa in 1991 at age 26.
The Age of Hope relates the life story of a fictional southern Manitoba Mennonite woman. It was published last year by Toronto-based HarperCollins Canada.
The Winnipeg-based Bergen has won several Manitoba book awards for his past novels. In 2005, he won the national Giller Prize for The Time in Between.
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