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Alberta Book Publishing: 2023 Year in Review

It’s been a busy year for Alberta publishers—they celebrated excellence in Alberta publishing at the 2023 Alberta Book Publishing Awards Gala (check out the highlight video, which includes an impactful message from Minister Tanya Fir), brought Alberta’s Story to international audiences at the Frankfurt Book Fair, highlighted their economic and cultural contributions to our province at Alberta Book Day (we love these photos!), connected schools with locally-published resources through the 2023/24 Alberta Books for Schools project, and published lots of new books

As Minister Fir said in her address at the gala, “we have a lot of great stories to tell in Alberta,” and we can’t wait to see what stories will be shared next year. 

Read on for more highlights from Alberta publishers!


Laberinto Press had a super busy year starting with the Chicago launch of The Ghost of You, a short story collection by Peruvian American academic and author Margarita Saona. Laberinto also accomplished their goal of having a book and its author invited to a literary festival when Margarita was invited to the Winnipeg Thin Air Festival!

And the accomplishments don’t stop there! Reviewers and other writers have loved this book (and Read Alberta too!): Margarita was interviewed by the Winnipeg Free Press, the book and press were featured by C. S Wisenthal in Alberta Views, and The Miramichi Reader chose The Ghost of You as one of the Best Books of 2023 in the Short Fiction category.


​Two Stonehouse authors, Anthony Bidulka and Joanne Jackson, won the two top awards at the Crime Writers of Canada Awards this year. This was the first time two authors from the same publisher, and authors from Saskatchewan, have won these awards— congrats on this record-setting win! Anthony Bidulka’s Going to Beautiful also won a gold IPPY in the Canada-West–Best Regional Fiction category and was shortlisted for the Alberta Book Publishing Awards2023 Mystery and Thriller Book of the Year and the Saskatchewan Book Awards’ 2023 Fiction Award. 

Stonehouse Publishing was also featured in Quill & Quire about their award-winning titles and the challenges of publishing in the west. It’s been a great year for this small Alberta publisher!


2023 was an exciting year for University of Alberta Press and its authors, with numerous award nominations. Two of the awards marked a “first time” for both the author and the Press. First, Gavin Bradley, author of Separation Anxiety, won the 2023 Bridges of Struga International Poetry Award. This prestigious award is for a debut book of poetry by a young writer, anywhere in the world. Second, Kasia Van Schaik achieved the longlist for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize for her debut collection of short stories, We Have Never Lived On Earth. It was a thrilling ride!

With troubling news in the Middle East, the press was honoured to publish books by Palestinians and Jews, bringing to the fore voices that are unheard, silenced, or marginalized. The newest title in their Women’s Voices from Gaza Series is Come My Children, by Palestinian Christian Hekmat Al-Taweel. Canada as a Settler Colony on the Question of Palestine, edited by Jeremy Wildeman and M. Muhannad Ayyash, explores Canada-Palestine relations through a settler colonial lens. In Leaving Other People Alone: Diaspora, Zionism, and Palestine in Contemporary Jewish Fiction, Aaron Kreuter reads contemporary North American Jewish fiction about Israel/Palestine through an anti-Zionist lens.


A lovely surprise for Renegade Arts Entertainment in 2023 was two of their titles winning awards at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards. Alberta Comics: Home won Book Illustration of the Year and King Warrior won Graphic Novel of the Year! King Warrior also won the Northwoods Best Youth Book for the Northwest Territories. Congratulations!


To mark the 100th Anniversary of the iconic Calgary Stampede Breakfast, Red Barn Books released Flip Flop Flapjack in May 2023. Author, Brenda Joyce Leahy, grand-daughter of the legendary founder Wildhorse Jack, and illustrator, Melissa Bruglemans-LaBelle, promoted the book through a whirlwind of events, including readings and drawing workshops at the Calgary Stampede, Stockmen’s Flapjack Breakfast, Calgary Public Library, and at numerous other schools and breakfasts. The book also hit the Calgary Herald and Read Alberta bestseller lists — thanks in part to Red Barn Books’ partnership with Owl’s Nest Books!

Red Barn Books rounded out the year by winning the Children’s & Young Adult Book of the Year Award at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards for Howdy, I’m Flores LaDue — making it a hat-trick for them in this category!


In collaboration with Athabasca University’s Writer-in-Residence committee, AU Press publishes a series of short books written by each year’s writer-in-residence. This year’s title was Indigiqueerness: A Conversation about Storytelling by Joshua Whitehead, in dialogue with Angie Abdou. This delightful and beautiful little book has been widely read over the past year. The next book in the series will be an essay on writing about Ukraine from last year’s writer-in-residence, Myrna Kostash.

Athabasca University Press was also recognized with several important awards for their publications this year. Memory and Landscape: Indigenous Responses to a Changing North edited by Kenneth L. Pratt and Scott A. Heyes received both the Scholarly and Academic Book of the Year and Book Design awards at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards. “Truth Behind Bars”: Reflections on the Fate of the Russian Revolution by Paul Kellogg received the Society for Socialist Studies’ Errol Sharpe Book Prize and Under the Nakba Tree: Fragments of a Palestinian Family in Canada by Mowafa Said Househ tied for gold in Best Regional Non-Fiction, Canada-West at the Independent Publisher Book Awards.


Transcribing Moonlight won the Robert Kroetsch Award for Poetry at the 2023 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!


The updated and revised edition of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide was shortlisted for Regional Book of the Year at the 2023 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!


Samuel and the Little People was shortlisted for Children’s and Young Adult Book of the Year at the 2023 Alberta Book Publishing Awards.


University of Calgary Press’ bestselling graphic novel Five Stalks of Grain was shortlisted for the Kobzar Award— the winner will be announced in 2024 (fingers crossed!)— and was recently translated into Ukrainian. This new edition was published in November 2023, in honour of Holodomor Remembrance Day

In collaboration with Canadian Mountain Network and Canadian Mountain Assessment, University of Calgary Press published Canadian Mountain Assessment: Walking Together to Enhance Understanding of Mountains in Canada. This groundbreaking book includes a variety of textual materials along with video recordings of oral knowledges shared by individuals from mountain areas in Canada. It has been profiled by CBC Calgary and Rocky Mountain Outlook. Did you know: University of Calgary Press is open-access! This title is available to read here.


Freehand Books likes to celebrate new releases at book launches that feel more like a party— and they had some successful parties this year! Ali Bryan’s launch for Coq was a hilarious, Parisian-themed gathering with croissants, wine, plastic models of the Eiffel Tower, and giant balloons. It was a record turnout and a gosh-darn good time, and as the icing on the cake, Coq landed at #1 on the Alberta Bestsellers List for that week. Another great party was the launch for The Abduction of Seven Forgers, which featured a banjoist and a fiddler, a tarot card reader who performed a reading for the novel itself, and a live portrait artist who handed out his sketches to the crowd. The book landed at #8 on the Hamilton Review of Books’ Independently Published Bestsellers List for October

Freehand was also grateful to publish Charlotte Bellows’ memoir, The Definition of Beautiful, in 2023. Through this article in the Calgary Guardian, you can see the shining spirit that Charlotte truly is! Her literary talent is astonishing, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for her.


2023 was a big year for award nominations at NeWest Press. Their books were nominated for awards from the Killer Nashville’s InternationalWriters’ Conference, Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence, IPPY Awards, Rakuten Kobo Awards, Alberta Book Publishing Awards, KOBZAR Award, and more! The Press also received the Mel Hurtig Publisher of the Year Award for their impressive publishing program. The most meaningful award the press received in 2023 was Ezra’s Ghosts winning the Douglas Barbour Award for Speculative Fiction, as this was one of the last books that Barbour reviewed for the press.

Another great event from 2023 was Alberta Book Day. NeWest had an impressive display of books and were encouraged to see so many Government of Alberta staff in attendance— and the official declaration of Alberta Book Day by Minister Fir was the cherry on top!


More awards news! What can we say, Alberta publishers are pretty impressive. In 2023 Durvile & UpRoute Books was excited to see The Rainbow, the Midwife, and the Birds as a finalist in the Canadian Online Publishing Awards and The Musician Healer: Transforming Art into Medicine as a silver award winner in the audiobook category at the COVR Visionary Awards.


A dedicated publishing house for genre fiction—especially science fiction, fantasy, and horror—EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing stands out amidst the literary and scholarly publishers in Alberta. In 2023, EDGE was pleased to see Super-Earth Mother, featured by MacBreak Weekly and author Mark Patton interviewed by Dan Henk about his novel Pish Taco. Learn more about the press in our Read Alberta feature


Folklore Publishing’s feature title for 2023 was The Rangeland Derby: 100 Years of Chuckwagon Racing at the Calgary Stampede by Glen Mikkelsen. Folklore was particularly excited about working with the Calgary Stampede to get permission for Mikkelsen to use the Stampede archives, as well as allow him into the barns to interview the drivers and the crew. The book was available throughout Stampede Park at all of the gift shops and Lammle’s locations, as well as at all of the other chuckwagon race venues during the season.

To support the publication of the book, Mikkelsen wrote articles for Western Horse Review and Western Art Collector, and the book was featured in Prairie Books Now, Canadian Cowboy Country, Alberta Views and the Calgary Herald. Glen also gave interviews with several local Calgary TV and radio stations. What a great Alberta book from a local publisher!


Brush Education was proud to publish Truth and Reconciliation Through Education in 2023.  Edited by Yvonne Poitras Pratt and Sulyn Bodnaresko, this book is an important contribution to the ongoing work of reconciliation in the classroom, and so far has received an incredible response from educators. Arising from a one-year master’s certificate program called Indigenous Education: A Call to Action, the essays in the collection are written by former participants of the program and detail the work educators are doing to engage with the theory and practice of reconciliation in their own lives and work. 

After a number of years in development, Brush was also pleased to publish Last But Not Least, a nuts-and-bolts proofreading guide that provides a valuable primer on this essential skill for anyone who works with words.


The Astronaut Always Rings Twice edited by Shannon Allen and JR Campbell was shortlisted for the Douglas Barbour Award for Speculative Fiction at the 2023 Alberta Book Publishing Awards.