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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.

 

 

More than half a century after modern classic To Kill a Mockingbird was published, a new manuscript by its reclusive and media-shy author came to light under mysterious circumstances. Mystery or not, the world went mad for it, and on July 14, 2015, it landed.

The new novel is called Go Set a Watchman. It has raised many, many questions, and spawned many, many reviews. It has an initial North American print run of 2 million copies.

I’ve been doing a segment called “Should I Read It?” on CBC Radio One’s Day 6 for the past five years. We review high-profile, much-talked-about books. We’ve never done one quite as talked about as this.

Go Set a Watchman: should you read it? Here’s my review.

Alessandra Naccarato, winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Photo credit Katrina Afonso.

 

On a hot and humid May evening in Toronto, the Writers’ Trust of Canada handed out its “thing in the spring,” the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. The winner was  Alessandra Naccarato for her poetry collection “Re-Origin of Species.”

The Bronwen Wallace Award recognizes emerging writers under 35 who have yet to publish in book form. Past winners include many then-unknown but now-familiar names, such as Michael Crummey, Alissa York, Alison Pick and Jeramy Dodds.

Host Tanis Rideout (another past winner) set the perfect tone: fun, celebratory, reverential. The crowd schmoozed to classical renditions of Top 40 songs (we were in the Royal Conservatory of Music, after all) in a stunning all-glass room with views of Philosopher’s Walk and the Royal Ontario Museum. The atmosphere was fun, lively, and distinctly emerge-from-hibernationy. This was, said Tanis “our thing in the spring.”

Alessandra Naccarato won $5,000. Her fellow nominees each won $1,000. They were: Irfan Ali for “Who I Think About When I Think About You,” and Chuqiao Yang for “Roads Home.”

Find out more about the prize and this year’s nominees here.

Read stories from CBC Books, the Toronto Star and Quill and Quire here, here and here.

And check out a Facebook photo gallery from the event courtesy of the Writers’ Trust here.

Here are the three nominees chatting with me and (via the magic of Periscope) the world on the pre-ceremony “red-carpet.”

Chatting to award finalists Irfan Ali, Alessandro Naccarato and Chuqiao Yang before the ceremony. Photo credit Katrina Afonso.

 

 

 

 

Mark Z. Danielewski has both dazzled and confounded readers with his high-concept novels that utilize font, colour, footnotes within footnotes, and sometimes turning the book upside down every few pages to tell a story.

His latest book, The Familiar: One Rainy Day in May, is presented as Volume 1 of a projected 27 volume series, of which new volumes (or “episodes”) will be released every 6 months. It’s unlike any book you’ve picked up before. But should you read it?

My review on CBC Day 6 >> listen here.

For the last-minute Christmas shoppers among you, here’s my annual Holiday Gift Guide for CBC Day 6.

Here’s the audio >> listen.

For foodies:

  • How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman
  • The Cookbook Book from Phaidon

For fiction lovers:

  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • The Neapolitan Series by Elena Ferrante

For non-fiction nuts:

  • Flashboys by Michael Lewis

Stocking stuffer:

  • Remembrance by Alistair MacLeod

 

Award winners (l to r) Joan Thomas, Cary Fagan, Miriam Toews, Ken Babstock, Susan Musgrave, Tyler Keevil

On November 4, 2014, Canada’s literary crowd got together for the night of warm fuzzy feelings that is the annual Writers’ Trust Awards.  Held at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, the event was hosted by Globe & Mail Arts Editor Jared Bland, who shared literary anecdotes between emotional speeches from the winners. In total, $139,000 in prize money was awarded to Canadian writers. The night’s winners were:

  • Miriam Toews for All My Puny Sorrows, which won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
  • Tyler Keevil for “Sealskin,” which won the Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize
  • Ken Babstock, who won the inaugural Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize
  • Joan Thomas, who won the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award
  • Susan Musgrave, who won the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life
  • Cary Fagan, who won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People.

Here’s some of the media coverage:

The books nominated for the 2014 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. cr. Tom Sandler

 

On October 14, at a salon-style gathering of more than 200 guests, the 2014 fall literary season shifted into high gear with the awarding of the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. The winner was Naomi Klein for her book This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate.

The other nominees, who each took home $5,000, were:

  • Susan Delacourt for Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them
  • Charles Montgomery for Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design
  • Paula Todd for Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies, and Predators Online
  • Kathleen Winter for Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage

Here’s a round-up of what the media said:

 

 

 

The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize now have shortlists! And this is my fifth year at the PR end of both prizes, which also deserves an exclamation mark >> !

As usual, the nominees were announced at a buzzing-yet-cozy event at Ben McNally Books in downtown Toronto. There were publishers, there was media, there were giant book covers printed on foam-core backing. There was coffee. There was also a vat of jam that was perhaps a joke on the part of the caterers…. Either way, it got good Twitter from the assembled coffee-and-pastry hungry crowd.

The Fiction Prize nominees were announced by Jan Innes, vice president, government affairs, Rogers Communications, and Helen Humphreys, a past winner of the prize and one of this year’s jurors.

The nominees are:

  • André Alexis for Pastoral, published by Coach House Books
  • Steven Galloway for The Confabulist, published by Knopf Canada
  • K.D. Miller for All Saints, published by Biblioasis
  • Carrie Snyder for Girl Runner, published by House of Anansi
  • Miriam Toews for All My Puny Sorrows, published by Knopf Canada

The Journey Prize nominees were announced by jurors Craig Davidson and Steven W. Beattie.

Those nominees are:

  • Tyler Keevil for “Sealskin”
  • Lori McNulty for “Monsoon Season”
  • Clea Young for “Juvenile”

Here’s a sampling of what people said about the announcement:

The winners will be announced at the Writers’ Trust Awards on November 4.

Prize juror Merrily Weisbord announces a nominee for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

A brand new book shopping list was announced this morning at Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto: the 2014 shortlist for the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

The nominees were announced at a press conference attended by 75 guests representing the publishing community, arts and entertainment media, and our prize partners. Guests were welcomed by the Hon. Hilary M. Weston, and the five nominees were announced by jurors Charles Foran, Priscila Uppal, Merrily Weisbord and Peter Mansbridge.

The nominees are:

  • Susan Delacourt for Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them
  • Naomi Klein for This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate
  • Charles Montgomery for Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design
  • Paula Todd for Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online
  • Kathleen Winter for Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage

Media coverage from the event included:

Information about the nominees and their books is available at writerstrust.com