André Alexis wins the 2015 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

Andre Alexis celebrates winning the prestigious Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize by feting the rise of the small-press publisher

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Andre Alexis in his home. (Photograph by Jaime Hogge)
Andre Alexis in his home. (Photograph by Jaime Hogge)

André Alexis’s self-described quincunx, five linked novels, is off to a roaring start, especially considering he hasn’t even written the final three. The first of the series, last year’s Pastoral, was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and on Nov. 3, the second, Fifteen Dogs, won the $25,000 award. It’s surely all “onwards and upwards—Giller, Booker, Nobel” for the rest, the writer assented, tongue (presumably) in cheek. But Alexis and Fifteen Dogs, one of the Canadian books of the year, may not have to wait very long for the Scotiabank Giller. His novel, one of only two books nominated for more than one of the three major national literary awards, is also on this year’s shortlist for Canada’s most prestigious and lucrative ($100,000) fiction prize, which will be awarded Nov. 10.

Related: Read an excerpt from Fifteen Dogs

Alexis gave a short and gracious thank-you speech, concentrated on his family and on his publisher, Coach House Books, which can now celebrate its 50th anniversary with its first WT win. It’s the sort of literary-minded press, Alexis said, that doesn’t first ask if a submitted manuscript will generate “$100,000 in revenue,” a pointed reference to a much-discussed comment by Penguin Random House CEO Brad Martin last spring. “We’re in the middle of something really, really intriguing,” the author, a prominent champion of independent publishing houses, said afterwards, “a renaissance of small presses flourishing under the strain of changes in the book world.” And sources of acclaimed writing: two of the four other Giller nominees are small-press releases too, meaning the odds suggest the indies are not through celebrating yet.