2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction Winner

2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalist James Maskalyk Life on the Ground Floor
James Maskalyk
Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine 
Doubleday Canada

2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalist James Maskalyk

"The sparse quiet of his aging grandfather’s cabin in northern Alberta; the raw chaos of a Toronto inner-city ER; the unceasing challenges of establishing an emergency medical facility in Addis Ababa

James Maskalyk, in Life on the Ground Floor, deftly connects these three worlds that delineate his daily journey as a doctor serving at the frontlines of mortality. Moving from crisis to crisis, Maskalyk wields visceral and edgy prose as he recounts his toils in the space bridging pain and peace. He 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.”

-2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury Susan Harada, Arno Kopecky, and Siobhan Roberts.

About the Book

From Toronto to Addis Ababa, Cambodia to Bolivia, James Maskalyk discovers that although the cultures, resources and medical challenges of each hospital may differ, they are linked indelibly by the ground floor: the location of their emergency rooms. Here, on the ground floor, is where Dr. Maskalyk witnesses the story of “human aliveness”—our mourning and laughter, tragedies and hopes, the frailty of being and the resilience of the human spirit. And it’s here too that he is swept into the story, confronting his fears and doubts and questioning what it is to be a doctor.

About the Author

James Maskalyk is a physician, an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, and a founding editor of the medical journal Open Medicine. His first book, Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village, about his experiences as a newly recruited doctor with Médecins Sans Frontières, was nominated for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing in 2010. Maskalyk directs a program that works with Ethiopian partners at Addis Ababa University to train East Africa’s first emergency physicians. He lives in Toronto.




Woodcock Fund



Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize


May 16 for books published between Mar 14 and May 15, 2018


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