Taylor Prize for non-fiction shortlist announced

The Charles Taylor Prize honours the best in Canadian non-fiction writing once year with a $25,000 prize, celebrating Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. According to the website, the prize will be awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception.

This year’s short list includes four authors from British Columbia, highlighting the strong writing community emerging on the west coast where provincial and federal programs along with frequent writers festivals encourage a strong narrative tradition.

The finalists for the 2012 prize are:

 Adventurer, scientist, filmmaker and author Wade Davis for Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest.

 Life-long tree-planter and author Charlotte Gill for Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe.

 Fashion columnist and radio documentary producer J.J. Lee for The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit.

 Novelist and poet Madeline Sonik for Afflictions & Departures: Essays

 Andrew Westoll for The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery.

Of all the nominees, Andrew Westoll is the only one who is not from British Columbia. (He resides in Toronto.) He told The Star about his ties to B.C: “I went to university there, and it’s where I started writing seriously. For years people have been talking about the high quality of non-fiction coming out of B.C., and while I’m not sure you can read anything into that, so many of those writers are very young.”

On average, only two or three non-fiction books make it into Amazon’s top 100-selling books of the year, so this award acts as a media spotlight for the rarely publicized category of non-fiction.

The shortlist jurors include non-fiction publishing consultant Susan Renouf, and authors Allan M. Brandt and Stevie Cameron.

The winner will be announced on March 5, 2012.

Sources: Charles Taylor Prize, The Star


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