Little-known authors and small publishers dominate the short list for the $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the second of the fall's three big literary award programs to announce its 2012 finalists.
Marking a sharp divergence from last year's almost uniform prize lists, only one of the five novelists picked by the Writer's Trust jury also appears on the long list for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Montreal-born, U.S.-based Alix Ohlin made both lists with her novel Inside, described as "intricate, involving and inspiring" by the Writers Trust jury. Inside is Ohlin's first novel.
Best known among the five finalists is Rawi Hage of Montreal, nominated for Carnival, his third novel. Both his and Ohlin's book were published by House of Anansi Press.
Other small press finalists are B.C.-born Tim Bowling, author of The Tinsmith, brought out by Brindle & Glass Publishing; and Nanaimo-born Tamas Dobozy, author of Siege 13, a collection of stories from Thomas Allen Publishers.
Toronto's Linda Spalding was nominated for The Purchase, published by McClelland & Stewart and described by he jury as "an epic novel in every way that matters" by the prize jury.
The winner will be announced Nov. 7 at a ceremony in Toronto.