Yesterday evening in Toronto, the Writers' Trust of Canada hosted publishers, writers, industry professionals, and book lovers to celebrate the best writing in Canada published in the past year. The charity presented seven literary prizes worth more than $270,000 in total, honouring works in fiction and nonfiction as well as bodies of work in the areas of writing for young readers, poetry, and more. Many of the prizes, in particular The Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, are leading prizes in their field and career-making honours for their winners.
The event was simultaneously live cast via the Writers' Trust website, and the recording of the livestream is available on their YouTube channel.
The evening marked a return to in-person celebrations for the awards and the enthusiastic crowd seemed excited to be back.
The winners were an intriguing mix of established and newly minted stars. francesca ekwuyasi, whose debut novel Butter Honey Pig Bread has netted her nominations for the Giller Prize, Dublin Literary Award, Governor General's Literary Award, and Amazon First Novel Award (to name just a few), added to her long list of awards for her first book in winning the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, while acclaimed mid-career writers like Shani Mootoo and Dandurand were hailed as excellent choices for the Writers' Trust Engel Findley Award and Latner Poetry Award respectively.
The Matt Cohen Award, unique in its celebration of a writer who has dedicated themselves to a writing life above other pursuits, went to Candace Savage, a nonfiction writer who previously won the Weston Prize in 2012. The Vicky Metcalf Award went to Montrealer Elise Gravel, whose 30+ children's books are widely praised for their witty and heartfelt way of engaging with progressive social issues.
The newly rebranded Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, now in its second year of sponsorship as part of $3 million gift from philanthropist Jim Balsillie, went to debut small press writer Nicholas Herring, whose Some Hellish is being hailed as a gritty, Cormac McCarthy-esque triumph. The headline award of the evening and the final presentation, the Weston Prize, went to musician-turned-writer and esteemed epidemiologist and policy analyst Dr. Dan Werb.
In addition the prizes presented yesterday, the Writers' Trust also administers The RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, The Writers' Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, the Balsillie for Public Policy, and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. To learn more about the Trust, their awards, and programmes, visit them online.
Below are the 2022 winners.
The Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers
$10,000, presented annually to a Canadian writer from the LGBTQ2S+ community for a debut book in any genre.
Winner: francesca ekwuyasi for Butter Honey Pig Bread (Arsenal Pulp Press)
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The Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life
$25,000, recognizes a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer working in poetry or prose in either French or English
Winner: Candace Savage
The Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People
$25,000, given annually to the author of an exceptional body of work in children's literature
Winner: Elise Gravel
The Writers’ Trust Engel Findley Award
$25,000, given to a mid-career writer in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian literature
Winner: Shani Mootoo
The Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize
$25,000, given to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry
Winner: Joseph Dandurand
The Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
$60,000 recognizes writers of exceptional talent for the best novel or short story collection of the year
Winner: Nicholas Herring for Some Hellish (Goose Lane Editions)
The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
$60,000, given annually for excellence in the category of literary nonfiction