Archives for posts with tag: books

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.

 

 

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.

From left: Tony Clement, Megan Leslie, Stephen Maher, Tom Power, Richard Madan and Lisa Raitt perform Sweet Caroline at the Politics & the Pen gala

 

On Wednesday night, at the Politics and the Pen Gala in Ottawa, Joseph Heath was named the winner of the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, Our Economy, and Our Lives.

The event, which is a fundraiser for the Writers’ Trust of Canada, was held at Ottawa’s Fairmont Chateau Laurier and attended by 500 guests from Canada’s political, literary and arts communities.

Highlights included a “Battle of the Bands,” which was kicked off by co-hosts Hon. Tony Clement and Tom Power and joined by MPs Lisa Raitt and Megan Leslie, journalist Stephen Maher, and broadcaster Richard Madan (pictured).

The event raised more than than $330,000 for the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

The five Shaughnessy Cohen Prize nominees were:

  • Joseph Heath for Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, our Economy, and Our Lives (winner)
  • Chantal Hébert with Jean Lapierre for The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was
  • Naomi Klein for This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate
  • John Ralston Saul for The Comeback: How Aboriginals Are Reclaiming Power and Influence
  • Graham Steele for What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise – and Collapse – of Nova Scotia’s NDP Government

View photos from the event and read party recaps at Globe & MailHELLO!, Hill TimesMaclean’s, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Magazine.

Listen to Joseph Heath talk to CBC As it Happens about his book and winning the prize here and read his interview with the Globe & Mail 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.

Interviewing Lynn Thomson at WOTS 2014. Photo credit: Kent Robinson

This column originally appeared on Open Book: Toronto on Sept, 26, 2014

On the morning of the 25th annual Word on the Street festival (WOTS) in Toronto, I awoke at 7am to the dispiriting sound of torrential rain. I snuggled under the covers with the Sunday paper and guiltily wished I hadn’t made a commitment to go and stand in a tent for most of the day. I wished the rain would stop. I wished I owned a pair of wellies.

At 8am, the rain was still hammering down. At 9am, thunder had joined the rain. By 9:30am I’d realized it was also humid. My hair had tipped me off: it was large.

I began my now annual ritual of figuring out what to wear to a) be presentable in front on an audience, while b) standing exposed to the elements for four hours. I have learned that for Word on the Street, sartorial options are key. I left the house in T-shirt and jean-jacket, toting a scarf, a light sweater, a waterproof jacket, and an umbrella in a bag — just in case. But by the time I’d even made it as far as the front porch, the sun had struggled out from behind the clouds. And out it stayed for the rest of the day. The weather gods had smiled kindly on WOTS 2014.

From late morning until mid-afternoon I hosted the Vibrant Voices of Ontario Stage, hearing readings from, and engaging in some lovely onstage chit-chat with, seven writers in four hours. In case you missed it, here are the Coles notes:

  • Krista Foss read from her debut novel, Smoke River. We talked about learning conversational Mohawk and rebutted the notion that one “graduates” from short stories to the novel.
  • Lynn Thomson read from her debut memoir, Birding with Yeats. I asked her about birding (of course) versus her day job of bookselling, and about her groovily named writing club, The Moving Pen.
  • Russian native Vladimir Azarov read from Sochi Delirium and I asked him why moving to Canada (not Paris, not Prague – Canada!) had inspired him to write poetry.
  • Adrienne Weiss read from There Are No Solid Gold Dancers Anymore. We talked about a psychic on Queen Street and the way actors may become unable to leave behind their defining roles.
  • Recent Quill & Quire cover girl Carrie Snyder read from Girl Runner and answered questions about running, tough career choices, and choosing a 104-year-old Aggie Smart as a protagonist.
  • Gordon Henderson, author of Man in the Shadows, talked about making the transition from journalism to fiction, and why Canadian history is a lot more fun than you think.
  • Claire Cameron read from The Bear, and then talked about the pros and cons of placing your narrative in the hands of a 5-year-old narrator, and the comfort (or terror) of story to make sense of tragedy.

When my stint on stage was over, I took a stroll around Queen’s Park in the now-scorching sun to see what was what (or should that be “what was WOTS”?). I peeped into some tents to check out the programming (including sign language on stage at the Amazon.ca Bestsellers Stage), and said Hi to many friends manning magazine booths, who still had wet feet from setting up shop in the early-morning monsoon.

Like the Coach House Wayzgoose (which I wrote about earlier in the month) WOTS is a massive end-of-summer coming together of the publishing crowd, but unlike almost anything else, it’s also a huge community event: fun, family friendly and free to attend. I met one of my best friends at my first WOTS, many chapters ago, and have had memorable conversations with both book-trade friends and book-reading strangers alike at every festival since. WOTS attracted a crowd of more than 200,000 this year. And when you consider than 5,000 sales can a Canadian bestseller make, those 200,000 represent a pretty significant voting block for the future of our business.

Despite the eventual benevolence of the weather gods, one small cloud remained on the periphery of this 25th anniversary WOTS. This year marked the last that the festival would be held at Queen’s Park. Next year it relocates to Harbourfront Centre, and one can’t help but feel though it gains a new home it may lose a little something in the move. More than 200,000 people ambling around our city’s waterfront is already a weekend-ly occurrence throughout the summer, but 200,000+ book lovers taking over a giant, easily stumbled-upon section of downtown to spend a day – rain or shine – soaking up literary experiences has no equivalent.

But that big change is a year away. With the Eden Mills Festival in Guelph and WOTS chapters across the country already having taken place, the 2014 fall festival season is officially underway. As I write, the Kingston WriterFest is in progress (in Kingston, obviously), and Toronto’s International Festival of Authors is a mere month away. Writers: it’s time to meet your readers. There are hundreds of thousands of them. I saw them with my own eyes last weekend. See you at the festivals, rain or shine.