This morning the Writers’ Trust of Canada announced the five finalists for the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the country's biggest and arguably most influential non-fiction award. It's an interesting list with lots to get book lovers and prize forecasters buzzing; four of the five titles are memoirs or incorporate memoir in the writing, and one title, Lindsay Wong's The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drugs Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family is the product of innovative, independent west coast publisher Arsenal Pulp Press - a feat in a list normally dominated by the country's biggest publishers. Notable as well on the shortlist is Elizabeth Hay, who is known for her acclaimed fiction and here makes the successful leap to non-fiction.
Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction 2018 Shortlist:
- Will Aitken for Antigone Undone: Juliette Binoche, Anne Carson, Ivo Van Hove, and the Art of Resistance, University of Regina Press
- Elizabeth Hay for All Things Consoled: A Daughter’s Memoir, McClelland & Stewart
- Terese Marie Mailhot for Heart Berries: A Memoir, Doubleday Canada
- Judi Rever for In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Random House Canada
- Lindsay Wong for The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family, Arsenal Pulp Press
Another interesting aspect of the shortlist is the gender breakdown: four women authors on the five-title list is a noteworthy change-up from many non-fiction lists of the past, given that the genre, and in particular prize lists, has often been dominated by men.
Finalists were selected by a three-member jury composed of writers Michael Harris, Donna Bailey Nurse, and Joel Yanofsky. In total, 107 titles were submitted by 58 publishers for consideration for the 2018 prize.
The prize will be presented as part of the Writers' Trust Awards ceremony on November 7, 2018, which also includes the presentation of the Journey Prize, the Rogers Fiction Prize, and many others. Each Weston finalist receives $5,000, with a $60,000 prize purse for the winner.
Prize sponsor The Hon. Hilary M. Weston praised the 2018 shortlist, saying "This year’s nonfiction finalists focus on themes of coming together in the face of adversity, regardless of our differences. The jury has highlighted some incredible talent, authors with varied experiences and expertise, and it is our pleasure to share this list."