Avenue of Champions book cover with Amazon First Novel Prize Award sticker

Conor Kerr a finalist for the First Novel Award

Nightwood Editions congratulates Conor Kerr, whose book, Avenue of Champions is a finalist for the $60,000 Amazon First Novel Award in the Adult Novel category.

Established in 1976, the First Novel Award program has launched the careers of some of Canada’s most beloved novelists. Previous winners include Michael Ondaatje, Joan Barfoot, Joy Kogawa, W. P. Kinsella, Nino Ricci, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Redhill, Mona Awad, Katherena Vermette and Michelle Good.

The winner will be announced in Toronto on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

Other finalists in the Adult Category are:

Probably Ruby (Penguin Random House) by Lisa Bird-Wilson, whose debut poetry collection, The Red Files, was published by Nightwood Editions in 2016;
All The Quiet Places (TouchWood Editions/Brindle & Glass) by Brian Thomas Isaac;
We, Jane (Book*hug Press) by Aimee Wall;
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead (Atria/Simon & Schuster), by Emily Austin;
and Ghost Forest (Penguin Random House), by Pik-Shuen Fung.

Three of the six finalists are published by independent Canadian-owned publishers and two of the three remaining books were written by authors who had their first book(s) published by indies.


Avenue of Champions is a novel about Daniel, a young Métis man, searching for a way to exist in a world of violence and systemic racism. Hitting obstacles at every turn—whether in the child welfare system, at university, or in government jobs, he observes and learns from the lived realities of his family members, friends and teachers. The narrative unfolds through stories told from the perspectives of various people in Daniel’s life, including: Granny, a moonshiner turned pot grower; Charlie, Daniel’s hardened yet big-hearted brother; and Jason, a boy that Daniel lived with, in foster care, and escaped the violence of their group home with more than once.

Conor Kerr (he/him) is a Métis/Ukrainian educator, writer and harvester. He is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, part of the Edmonton Indigenous community and is descended from the Lac Ste. Anne and Fort Des Prairies Métis communities and the Papaschase Cree Nation. His Ukrainian family settled in Treaty 4 territory in Saskatchewan. Conor works as the Executive Director of Indigenous Education & Services at snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ (Langara College) and lives in Vancouver on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam First Nations. In 2019, Conor received The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize and in 2021 The Malahat Review's Long Poem prize. His writing has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologized in Best Canadian Stories 2020, Best Canadian Poetry 2020. His first two books were published in 2021, a poetry collection An Explosion of Feathers and debut novel Avenue of Champions. He has a forthcoming poetry collection tentatively titled Old Gods for publication with Nightwood Editions in 2023.