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.

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.