Five vie for political writing prize

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The Writers’ Trust of Canada has announced its five finalists for the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, with the winner to be announced in Ottawa on March 6, 2013.

Spotlighted topics include a tour of razor-wire barricades, options for urban transit, Canada’s move from peacekeeping to war, the state of Canadian health care, and amalgamation in Montreal.

Finalists, who will each receive $2,500, are Marcello Di Cintio (Walls: Travels Along the Barricades), Taras Grescoe (Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile), Noah Richler (What We Talk About When We Talk About War), Jeffrey Simpson (Chronic Condition: Why Canada’s Health-Care System Needs to be Dragged into the 21st Century) and Peter F. Trent (The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made an Even Bigger Mess of Montreal).

Selection of finalists was made by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, columnist Tasha Kheiriddin, and novelist and translator Daniel Poliquin.

The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize is sponsored by Bell Media and supported by the Politics and the Pen Gala. Now in its thirteenth year, it is awarded annually to a non-fiction book that “captures a political subject of interest to Canadian readers and enhances our understanding of the issue.”

Shaughnessy Cohen was the Liberal MP for the riding of Windsor-St. Clair from 1993 until her death in 1998, when she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while addressing the House of Commons.

 

Prairie writer wins $60K nonfiction prize

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Saskatchewan writer Candace Savage has won the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape.

The prize was announced at a gala literary event in Toronto.

In a Monday release, the Writers’ Trust said Savage is a celebrated writer of dozens of books and essays, who writes on a wide range of topics, from the cosmic science of the aurora to the inner workings of a beehive. She was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010 in recognition of her scholarly and artistic achievements.

The four other finalists each received $5,000. They are Kamal Al-Solayleefor Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes; Modris Eksteins for Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age; Taras Grescoe for Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile; and JJ Lee for The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit.

The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction is awarded for literary excellence in the category of nonfiction, which includes, among other forms, personal or journalistic essays, history, biography, memoirs, commentary, and criticism, both social and political. Finalist works are judged to demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique.

Poetry hits chord at Trillium book fest

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The night sang with poetry this week as Ontario presented its Trillium book awards at a dinner in Toronto.

Poet Phil Hall of Perth took home a $20,000 prize as winner of the Trillium Book Award in English-language. His book, Killdeer, was published by BookThug of Toronto. Killdeer also received the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Poetry last fall and was short-listed for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize.

In the separate English-language poetry category, honours went to Toronto’s Nick Thran and his publisher Nightwood Editions for Earworm.

Ottawa writer Michèle Vinet’s managed to crack the line-up with her novel Jeudi Novembre, which was named best French-language book. Fellow Ottawa resident Sonia Lamontagne’s quickly re-versed the theme, however, with À tire d’ailes, winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in French-language.

Sudbury’s Editions Prise de parole was the publisher for both French-language winners.

The Wednesday event marked the 25th anniversary of the awards. As part of the celebrations, Open Book ran a public contest to select the favourite French and English titles from the previous 24 years’ winners. From a list of public picks, a celebrity critics’ panel selected Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient (McClelland & Stewart) as their favourite in the English language category. A panel of students from The Toronto French School, meanwhile, selected Les Rebuts : Hockey 2 by Paul Prud’Homme (Les Éditions du Vermillon) as the best of the best in the French language.

Trillium Book Award winners each receive $20,000, while their publishers receive $2,500 toward their promotional costs. The two Poetry Award winners each receive $10,000 and their publishers receive $2,000. All finalists receive a $500 honorarium.