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Writers' Trust announces 2016 Hilary Weston Prize for Nonfiction Shortlist


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“The best non-fiction writing offers a window on other lives, other times, and other worlds.” That window is opening a little wider today with the announcement of the 2016 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. Prize sponsor, The Hon. Hilary M. Weston, included those words in the announcement of jurors Carolyn Abraham, Stephen Kimber, and Emily Urquhart's five-title shortlist for what has become the richest annual literary award for a book of non-fiction published in Canada. The $60,000 prize purse honours the book chosen as the finest of the year, selected in 2016 from more than 95 submissions from 50 publishers. Each of the remaining finalists will receive a $5,000 honorarium for their achievement.

The list features two Canadians currently living abroad: Jerusalem-based Matti Friedman and Oxford, UK-based Ross King, who was previously nominated in 2010.

In a whimsical twist, the nominated publishers were informed of the good news by being sent a jigsaw puzzle to solve. The assembled pieces revealed a graphic of the shortlists books. 

The prize will be presented at a Writers' Trust event in Toronto on November 2, where several of the charity's prestigious awards will be given out, including the Rogers Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction and the Journey Prize (which honours the best short story published in a Canadian journal or magazine in the previous year) as well as several body of work awards in a number of genres. 

The 2016 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction Shortlist: 

  • Ian Brown (Toronto, ON) for Sixty: A Diary of My Sixty-first Year: The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning?, Random House Canada
  • Deborah Campbell (Vancouver, BC) for A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War, Knopf Canada
  • Matti Friedman (Jerusalem) for Pumpkinflowers: An Israeli Soldier’s Story, Signal/McClelland & Stewart
  • Ross King (Oxford, UK) for Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, Bond Street Books/Doubleday Canada
  • Sonja Larsen (Vancouver, BC) for Red Star Tattoo: My Life as a Girl Revolutionary, Random House Canada

If you'd like to solve a digital version of the shortlist puzzle, you can do so on the Writers' Trust website

Stay tuned to Open Book for lots more literary prize news throughout the fall season!