Michael Kaan has won the 2018 Amazon.ca First Novel Award for The Water Beetles. The $40,000 annual recognizes the best debut novels by Canadian writers.
The 42nd annual First Novel Award, co-presented by Amazon Canada and The Walrus Foundation, celebrates the remarkable achievements of first-time Canadian novelists. Michael Kaan’s The Water Beetles, published by Goose Lane Editions, was announced as the winner during the awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, at the Toronto Reference Library.
The novel was acquired and edited by Goose Lane’s fiction editor Bethany Gibson.
First published in April 2017, Michael Kaan’s The Water Beetles is “a literary high wire act” (Toronto Star) set in China following the Japanese invasion. Loosely based on the diaries and stories of the author’s father, this mesmerizing tale vividly captures the horror of war through the eyes of a child with unsettling and unerring grace. The Georgia Straight has described it as “a work of lasting power.” The novel was named a “Best Book of 2017” by National Post and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award in Fiction.
The 2018 jury was comprised of professor and author Irene Gammel, award-winning author Dimitri Nasrallah, and literary journalist, lecturer, and critic Donna Bailey Nurse.
Other writers whose books appeared on the shortlist included Sharon Bala, author of The Boat People (McClelland & Stewart), David Demchuk, author of The Bone Mother (ChiZine Publications), Omar El Akkad, author of American War (McClelland & Stewart), Rachel Manley, author of The Black Peacock (Cormorant Books), and Alison Watt, author of Dazzle Patterns (Freehand Books).
About Michael Kaan
Michael Kaan was born in Winnipeg, the second child of a father from Hong Kong and a Canadian mother. He completed a degree in English from the University of Manitoba, later completing an MBA in Health Economics from the same institution. He has worked as a healthcare administrator since 2000, primarily in mental health and health research. He currently manages a mental health clinic. His father died in 2006, and Michael came into possession of his memoirs shortly thereafter. The Water Beetles is his first novel.
To learn more about The Water Beetles, click here.