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The 2017 RBC Taylor Prize Shortlist Gets Personal

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Today saw the announcement of the 2017 shortlist for the RBC Taylor Prize, and this time it's personal -- the 12 title longlist was whittled down to just five titles, each of which tells a very personal story, with a particular focus on memoir and biography, signalling that this year's prize will focus on up close and individual stories. 

Governor General's Literary Award winner Diane Schoemperlen made it through from the longlist with her compulsively readable memoir about her relationship with a convicted killer, as did Ross King and Matti Friedman, whose nominated books were also nominated for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

The list is rounded out by Max Eisen's raw and moving Holocaust memoir, for which the author is donating a portion of the proceeds to institutions promoting tolerance, and Marc Raboy's Marconi biography, which focuses on the iconic inventor's role laying the early groundwork for our current globalized lifestyles. 

The announcement was made by Noreen Taylor, founder of the literary non-fiction RBC Taylor Prize and chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation, which honours her late husband and encourages excellence in Canadian literary non-fiction. Taylor was joined by Vijay Parmar, President of RBC PH&N Investment Counsel and a trustee of the Charles Taylor Foundation, on behalf of RBC Wealth Management, presenting sponsor of the Prize. 

Shortlist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize:

  • By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz by Max Eisen (Toronto, ON), published by HarperCollins Canada
  • Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War by Matti Friedman (Jerusalem), published by Algonquin Books
  • Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of Water Lilies by Ross King (Oxford, England), published by Bond Street Books
  • Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World by Marc Raboy (Montreal, QC), published by Oxford University Press
  • This Is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison, and Other Complications by Diane Schoemperlen (Kingston, ON), published by HarperCollins Canada

The 2017 winner will be announced at an event in Toronto on March 6. The most recent winner of the $25,000 prize was acclaimed biographer Rosemary Sullivan, who was awarded the 2016 prize for her biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of Joseph Stalin. 

Stay tuned to Open Book for conversations with the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize nominees as well as the announcement of the winner!