Writers Trust Award organizers announced this week that Carnival, the latest work by celebrated Lebanese-Canadian novelist Rawi Hage, is on the shortlist for their 2012 prize.

The Writer’s Trust prize, which brings its winner $25,000, is one of Canada’s biggest literary honors.

According to Carnival’s publisher:

In the Carnival city there are two types of taxi drivers — the spiders and the flies. The spiders patiently sit in their cars and wait for the calls to come. But the flies are wanderers — they roam the streets, looking for the raised hands of passengers among life’s perpetual flux.

Fly is a wanderer and a knower. Raised in the circus, the son of a golden-haired trapeze artist and a flying carpet pilot from the East, he is destined to drift and observe. From his taxi we see the world in all its carnivalesque beauty and ugliness. We meet criminals, prostitutes, madmen, magicians, and clowns of many kinds. We meet ordinary people going to extraordinary places, and revolutionaries trying to live ordinary lives. Hunger and injustice claw at the city, and books provide the only true shelter. And when the Carnival starts, all limits dissolve, and a gunshot goes off . . .

This is Hage’s third novel; his two previous works — De Niro’s Game (set in 1980s, civil-war-torn Lebanon) and Cockroach (set in Hage’s adopted Montreal) — were both widely lauded. Other authors on the Writer’s Trust shortlist are:

  • Tim Bowling, nominated for his Civil War-era novel The Tinsmith.
  • Tamas Dobozy, nominated for his short fiction collection Siege 13.
  • Alix Ohlin, nominated for Inside.
  • Linda Spalding, for her novel The Purchase, set in 18th century.