Glitz and glory brighten city’s literary skies

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Glitz, glory, grants and glamour – the next five weeks promise to be a high-octane celebration of all things literary in Toronto.

On November 7, the Writers’ Trust of Canada will hand out $114,000 in prize money at its 12th annual awards event, to be held at the city’s Isabel Bader Theatre.

Headliner is the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, where five finalists will vie for honours as writer of the year’s best novel or short story collection. Each of the five will receive $2,500, with the eventual winner receiving a total of $25,000. Finalists were chosen by a jury of Lynn Coady, Esi Edugyan, and Drew Hayden Taylor from 116 nominated titles.

To give the public a taste of their work, finalists Tim Bowling (The Tinsmith), Tamas Dobozy (Siege 13), Rawi Hage (Carnival), Alix Ohlin (Inside) and Linda Spalding (The Purchase) will be reading at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto on October 24 and in Owen Sound on October 25.

(The annual festival runs from October 18 to 28 and features such luminaries as Alice Munro and Rohinton Mistry.)

Also competing at the November 7 awards event will be three finalists for the Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, which recognizes new and developing writers for the best short story first published in a Canadian literary journal during the previous year.

Kevin Hardcastle (“To Have to Wait” in The Malahat Review), Andrew Hood (“Manning” in PRISM international) and Alex Pugsley (“Crisis on Earth-X” in The Dalhousie Review) will joust for the $10,000 Journey prize.

Four additional prizes for a body of work will also be presented at the ceremony:

  • Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life ($20,000)
  • Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature ($20,000)
  • Writers’ Trust Distinguished Contribution Award

Canada’s literary leaders will reconvene for the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, with the crowning of the 2012 winner set for a November 12 gala at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music.

The five finalists were chosen from a slate of 104 titles by former Ontario lieutenant-governor James Bartleman, past prize finalist Charlotte Gill and writer Marni Jackson. They are Kamal Al-Solaylee (Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes), Modris Eksteins (Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age), Taras Grescoe (Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile), J.J. Lee (The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit) and Candace Savage (Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape).

After all that praising and prizing, literary benefactors will start topping up the till again at the annual Writers’ Trust Gala to be held Thursday, November 15 at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. Proceeds from the event  fund  programs and initiatives that include the organization’s literary awards program, Berton House Writers’ Retreat and scholarship program with Humber College.

The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing.

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