Wayne Johnston





Wayne Johnston spins wonderful stories; he is a gather-you-round-and-I-will-enchant-you raconteur. He has absorbed the world around him—the tall tales, the history, the epic of a place—and adapted it to a narrative style that is clearly his own. His stories charm and beguile. He writes about the ordinary and extraordinary people of Newfoundland with great empathy and without a shred of sentimentality. At the same time his fiction has a mythic quality: Smallwood walking across the island through drifted snow; a father and son surviving a long trek through winter woods by holding onto a horse and one another; an iceberg with the likeness of the Virgin Mary. Wayne Johnston’s fiction is subtle, his passion understated, his humour underpinned by tragedy. All of his work, superbly written, is a powerful combination of insight, talent and revelation. It is made to endure.
— 2011 Prize jury

About the Author

Wayne Johnston was born and raised in Goulds, Newfoundland. After a brief stint in pre-medicine, Johnston obtained a B.A. in English from Memorial University. He worked as a reporter for the St. John's Daily News before deciding to devote himself full-time to writing. En route to being published, Johnston earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of New Brunswick. His first book, The Story of Bobby O'Malley, published when he was just 27 years old, won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Subsequent books consistently received critical praise and increasing public attention. The Divine Ryans was adapted to the silver screen in a production starring Academy Award winner Pete Postlethwaite - Johnston wrote the screenplay. Baltimore's Mansion, a memoir dealing with his grandfather, his father, and Johnston himself was tremendously well received and won the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and Governor-General’s Literary Award. It was also identified by the Globe and Mail as one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever produced. Johnston’s sixth novel, The Navigator of New York, published in 2002, was also a finalist for the GIller Prize. His latest two novels, The Custodian of Paradise, published in 2006, and A World Elsewhere, published earlier this year, where both longlisted for the Giller Prize. Johnston lives in Toronto.

Selected Publications

A World Elsewhere (2011)
The Custodian of Paradise (2006)
The Navigator of New York (2002)
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (1999)
The Divine Ryans (1998)
Human Amusements (1994)
The Times of Their Lives (1987)
The Story of Bobby O’Malley (1985)




Woodcock Fund



Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing


September 19 for books published between June 20 and September 18, 2018


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


July 18 for books published between May 16 and Sept 30, 2018


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