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Writers’ Trust Awards More than $260,000 to Canada’s Writers

David Chariandy, Louise Bernice Halfe, James Maskalyk, Ruby Slipperjack, among night’s big winners

Toronto – November 14, 2017 – Tonight in Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, the Writers’ Trust of Canada hosted one of the richest prize-giving nights in Canada, presenting seven literary awards and more than $260,000 to Canadian writers. Awards were presented for individual works and career achievement, and in recognition of accomplishments in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, short fiction, poetry, and literature for young readers. The value of three of the prizes has increased this year.

James Maskalyk Life on the Ground Floor Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalist

James Maskalyk (Toronto) was awarded the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine, which chronicles the chaos of an inner city Toronto ER and the challenges of establishing an emergency medical facility in Addis Ababa.

David Chariandy Brother Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2017 finalist

David Chariandy (Vancouver, B.C.) received the $50,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize – for which the prize purse doubled this year – for Brother, a coming of age story about two brothers, the sons of Trinidadian immigrants, in Scarborough, Ont.

 

Sharon Bala 2017 Journey Prize winnerThe $10,000 Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize went to Sharon Bala (St. John’s) for “Butter Tea at Starbucks,” which explores the conflict between Tibet and China through the lens of a new baby, an interracial marriage, and an office rivalry.


Four authors received awards for their contributions to Canadian literature through a body of work: 

Louise Bernice HalfeLouise Bernice Halfe (Saskatoon, Sask.), whose four collections of poetry draw on experiences including the author’s time in a residential school and her response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, won the $25,000 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize;


Diane Schoemperlen 2017 Matt Cohen Award winnerDiane Schoemperlen
(Kingston, Ont), author of more than a dozen books, including novels, short stories, and a memoir, won the $25,000 Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life;




Billie Livingston 2017 Engel/Findley Award winnerBillie Livingston
(Vancouver, B.C.), an essayist, short story writer, poet, and the author of four novels, took home the $25,000 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award;




Ruby Slipperjack 2017 Vicky Metcalf Award winnerRuby Slipperjack (Thunder Bay, Ont.), whose three decades of work for young readers portrays the traditional religious and social customs of the Anishinabe in northern Ontario, won the $25,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People.



The event, which was attended by more than 300 guests from the literary, arts, and media communities, was emceed by Nick Mount, author of Arrival: The Story of CanLit.

Below are the prizes presented, with comments from the jurors. 

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction ($60,000)

Awarded for literary excellence in the category of nonfiction.

Winner:

James Maskalyk Life on the Ground Floor Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalistJames Maskalyk
Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine
(Doubleday Canada)

“[Maskalyk] reveals compelling universal truths about the power, and limits, of medicine – ‘life caring for itself,’ as he defines it – the strength of human will, and the fragile, infinitesimal gap between dying and living.”

Finalists:

Ivan Coyote Tomboy Survival Guide Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

Ivan Coyote
Tomboy Survival Guide
(Arsenal Pulp Press)


 

Kyo Maclear Birds Art Life Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalist

Kyo Maclear
Birds Art Life
(Doubleday Canada)

 
 

Carol Off All We Leave Behing Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalist

Carol Off
All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others
(Random House Canada)



Tanya Talaga Seven Fallen Feathers Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalistTanya Talaga
Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City
(House of Anansi)
 


Each finalist received $5,000. The winner and finalists were chosen by a jury composed of Susan Harada, Arno Kopecky, and Siobhan Roberts. They read 100 books submitted by 54 publishers. The prize was presented by sponsor The Hon. Hilary M. Weston.

Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize ($50,000)

Awarded for the year’s best novel or short story collection.

David Chariandy Brother Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2017 finalist

David Chariandy 
Brother
(McClelland & Stewart)

“With stunning lyrical writing, pitch perfect pacing, and unexpected humour, Chariandy creates a world where beauty abounds in the most unexpected spaces and leaves us full of music and hope.”

Finalists:

Carleigh Baker Bad Endings Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2017 finalist

Carleigh Baker
Bad Endings
(Anvil Press)


 

Claire Cameron The Last Neanderthal Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2017 finalist

Claire Cameron
The Last Neanderthal
(Doubleday Canada)


 

Omar El Akkad American War Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2017 finalist

Omar El Akkad
American War
(McClelland & Stewart)


 

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson This Accident of Being lost Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize 2017 finalist

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
This Accident of Being Lost
(House of Anansi)




Each finalist received $5,000. The winner and finalists were chosen by a jury composed of Michael Christie, Christy Ann Conlin, and Tracey Lindberg. They read 141 books submitted by 67 publishers. The prize was presented by Steve Maich, Senior Vice President, Digital Content & Publishing, Rogers Media. It has been sponsored by Rogers Communications since its inception in 1997.

Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize ($10,000)

Awarded for the best short fiction published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine.

Sharon Bala 2017 Journey Prize winnerSharon Bala 
Butter Tea at Starbucks
(The New Quarterly)
 
“This is writing that wades, unafraid, into complexity and controversy, but which is nuanced enough to wrangle finely drawn, utterly human characters to moments of aching vulnerability, confused pain, and unexpected joy.”

Finalist:

Darlene Naponse 2017 Journey Prize finalistDarlene Naponse 
She Is Water
(The Malahat Review)

 


Darlene Naponse received $1,000. The journal that originally published the winning entry received $2,000. The winner and finalist were chosen by a jury composed of Kevin Hardcastle, Grace O’Connell, and Ayelet Tsabari. The prize is made possible by James A. Michener’s donation of his Canadian royalty earnings from his 1988 novel Journey. In association with the prize, McClelland & Stewart publishes an annual fiction anthology, The Journey Prize Stories, a collection of the stories that form the longlist for the prize. The prize was presented by Ayelet Tsabari.

Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize ($25,000) 

Awarded to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry.

Louise Bernice Halfe

Louise Bernice Halfe

“In the works of Louise Bernice Halfe, we are in the presence of an extraordinary storyteller, okihcihtâw-iskwew (a warrior woman): one whose voice emerges from profound solitude, and simultaneously opens to a vast polyphony of voices.”

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of Alice Burdick, Soraya Peerbaye, and 2016 recipient Gregory Scofield. William Hewitt, executive director of prize sponsor the Latner Family Foundation, presented the prize.

Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life ($25,000)

Awarded to a writer dedicated to writing as a primary pursuit in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished work. The value of this prize increased by $5,000 this year.

Diane Schoemperlen 2017 Matt Cohen Award winner

Diane Schoemperlen

“Through her 33 years as a writer, [Schoemperlen] has definitely lived the writer’s life. In the process, she has dissected not only genres but words themselves, penetrating the arcane elements of language as a means of getting at what is fundamental to the human heart.”

The winner was chosen by an award committee composed of Patsy Aldana, Graeme Gibson, Don Oravec, and Wayne Grady, who also presented the prize. The prize is sponsored by Marla and David Lehberg.

Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award ($25,000)

Awarded to a mid-career writer in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian literature.

Billie Livingston 2017 Engel/Findley Award winner

Billie Livingston

“Livingston’s writing is masterfully crafted, jammed with vivid detail, and strobed with flashes of real comedy. It emits pure light that cuts through the darkness and leaves us laughing, mercifully, in the face of our most difficult truths.”

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of Katherine Govier, Alexander MacLeod, and 2016 recipient Eden Robinson, and was presented by Douglas Knight, Chair, Writers’ Trust Board of Directors. The prize is sponsored by the Writers’ Trust of Canada Board of Directors, Pitblado Family Foundation, and Michael Griesdorf Fund.

Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People ($25,000)

Awarded in recognition of a body of work to a writer of literature for young readers. The value of this prize increased by $5,000 this year.

Ruby Slipperjack 2017 Vicky Metcalf Award winner

Ruby Slipperjack

“Ruby Slipperjack is a trail-breaker in the field of Indigenous literature and of children’s literature in general...In subject matter and setting, she ranges where no other children’s writer in Canada has gone.”

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of Deirdre Baker, Richard Van Camp, and Marthe Jocelyn, who also presented the prize. The prize is sponsored by the Metcalf Foundation.

About the Writers’ Trust Awards

The Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony is made possible through generous support from corporate, foundation, and individual sponsors. Media partners CBC Books and The Globe and Mail provide additional support. The project is partially funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage. Other supporting partners are Chatelaine, Indigo, IFOA, Maclean’s, Quill & Quire, Steam Whistle Brewing, and White Pine Pictures.

A recorded live stream of the Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony can now be viewed at writerstrust.com/WTAwards.

About the Writers’ Trust of Canada

The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs including ten national literary awards, a fellowship, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country: more than $500,000 each year.

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bt@beckytoyne.com


 

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