MacEwan University’s Book of the Year for 2021/22 is How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa.

This annual interdisciplinary celebration of a work of Canadian literature reaches into classrooms across the university. Students and faculty members explore a piece of contemporary Canadian literature through workshops, author readings, a Wall of Fame reception, a student contest and more. This year’s events have been adapted to meet COVID-19 restrictions, but will include many opportunities for students to engage with the author, including through virtual classroom visits.

Since its inception in 1997, the Book of the Year program has been guided by a committee of faculty, staff and students. The book is chosen by the committee, from nominations made by the university community. 

This year’s book

How to Pronounce Knife

How to Pronounce Knife

By Souvankham Thammavongsa

How to Pronounce Knife, the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, tells the stories of several immigrant people struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the “grunt work of the world.” Thammavongsa focuses on characters struggling to make a living, illuminating their hopes, disappointments, love affairs, acts of defiance and, above all, their pursuit of a place to belong.

Thammavongsa is the author of four acclaimed poetry books as well as this short story collection. Her stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Granta and NOON. Thammavongsa is a judge for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize. She was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, and was raised and educated in Toronto.


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