Don’t panic…but there are only five shopping days left until Christmas. Listen here for my annual Holiday Gift Guide for CBC’s Day 6, a selection of six great books for a variety of readers on your list (hint: said books are stacked in my arms right up there /\. Look how happy I am to be recommending them!). Remember, folks: books are easy to wrap. Happy Holidays!

 

(l to r) Karen Solie, Deirdre Dore, André Alexis, Richard Wagamese, Jan Thornhill, Annabel Lyon. Photo credit: Tom Sandler

The Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony is easily one of my favourite literary events of the year. Over the course of an hour, the Writers’ Trust gives out six prizes for literary merit and $139,000 to Canadian writers. There are always some surprises and there are always some very excellent acceptance speeches. The 300-strong crowd is a who’s who of emerging writers, entry-level publishing staff, and the most experienced and respected publishers in the land.

Without a doubt, one of this years’ most memorable moments was the acceptance speech delivered by Richard Wagamese on accepting the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life. Don’t believe me? Watch it here. It is well worth 4 minutes of your time.

The award recipients were:

Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize ($25,000)
André Alexis for Fifteen Dogs, published by Coach House Books

Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize ($10,000)
Deirdre Dore for “The Wise Baby,” published in Geist

Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People ($20,000)
Jan Thornhill

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

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

Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life ($20,000)
Richard Wagamese

 


It’s IFOA! (that’s the International Festival of Authors, for the uninitiated), and squillions of authors are in town to talk about their books. On Sunday afternoon, I had the great good fortune to sit up on stage and chat to four of them:

  • Samuel Archibald, whose story collection Arvida was recently shortlisted for the Giller Prize
  • Nick Cutter, whose latest novel is The Deep
  • Benjamin Percy, whose latest novel is The Dead Lands
  • Andrew Pyper, whose latest novel is The Damned

We talked about putting the things that scare you into words and story (hint: all four authors have young children), whether it’s scarier to spell it out or to keep it vague, and whether genre is dead, among other things.

Oh, and Stephen King came up quite a bit.

They were all thoroughly excellent chaps who have written thoroughly excellent books. All in all, a thoroughly excellent way to spend a late-October afternoon.

 

*Photo (l to r) Samuel Archibald, Nick Cutter, Becky Toyne, Andrew Pyper, Benjamin Percy
Pphotographer credit: ifoa.org / Tom Bilenkey

The crowd gathers at the 2015 Hilary Weston Prize presentation. Photo credit: Tom Sandler

At an elegant gathering of 200 well-heeled, literary-minded folk in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Walker Court on October 6, the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction was awarded to Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva.

Performers brought each of the nominated books to life throughout the party and awards show. Also present was the winner of this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Student Nonfiction Writing Contest, Nico Branham.

In her acceptance speech, Sullivan thanked her late mother, her “most persistent fan.”

The next morning, I dragged her out bright and early to do the media rounds. She was very nice about it.

A photo gallery of the night’s festivities can be viewed here on the Writers’ Trust Facebook page.

 

 

 

Anxious publishers and publicists and members of the media gathered at Ben McNally Books in downtown Toronto for the unveiling of the first fiction-prize shortlists of the fall 2015 literary season.

The finalists for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize are:

The winner will receive $25,000 and each finalist $2,500.

The finalists for the Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize are:

The winner will receive $10,000 and each finalist will receive $1,000.

In addition, the journal that first published the winning story will receive $2,000.

The winners of both prizes, along with four other awards for a body of work, will be announced at the Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony in Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio on November 3.