Short Stories and Children's Literature Win Big at 2012 Writers' Trust Awards

Tamas Dobozy, Nino Ricci, Jean Little, Paul Yee among night's big winners

TORONTO, Nov. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - Tonight in Toronto's Isabel Bader Theatre, the Writers' Trust of Canada awarded $114,000 to Canadian writers at the 12th annual Writers' Trust Awards. Comprising five awards for literary merit and a sixth for long-standing service to the country's literary community, the Awards provide the occasion for one of the richest literary prize-giving events in Canada.

Tamas Dobozy was awarded the $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for Siege 13, a collection of linked stories documenting the bloody siege of Budapest during World War II and its haunting legacy for the survivors.

Three authors received awards for their excellence in literature: Nino Ricci, author of the Lives of the Saints trilogy, took home the $25,000 Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award; Jean Little, who, nearly blind since birth, has overcome tremendous challenges to write dozens of beloved books for young readers, received the $20,000 Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life; and Paul Yee, a writer who has documented the Chinese-Canadian experience from its early days to the present, won the $20,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature.

The $10,000 Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize went to Alex Pugsley for "Crisis on Earth-X," a short story about a young boy whose family crisis leads him to question his once unshakeable faith in his uncle.

An additional award for service to the writing community was presented to the Metcalf Foundation, in recognition of its role in creating and sponsoring the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature, which was presented for the 50th time tonight. Several past prizewinners appeared in a video to talk about the obstacles that writers of children's literature in Canada face and what receiving this prize has meant to them and their careers.

The event was hosted by CBC Radio One broadcast journalist Shelagh Rogers.

"Tonight the Writers' Trust identifies and honours some of our most gifted writers in Canada," said Peter Kahnert, Writers' Trust Chair and senior vice-president, corporate communications and marketing, Raymond James Ltd. "These prizes represent an affirmation of the talent on display in Canadian literature, and the Writers' Trust is grateful to our many sponsors and partners for their support in helping us shine a light on the efforts of tonight's prizewinners and finalists."

Below are the prizes presented, with comments from the jurors. (Complete jury citations are available at writerstrust.com, along with biographical information and high-resolution images.)

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize ($25,000)
Winner:

  • Tamas Dobozy, Siege 13 (Thomas Allen Publishers)

"Siege 13 spans continents and decades, and in doing so illustrates once again that old maxim: the short story can be both as broad and as deep as a novel. These stories are never less than breathtaking."

Finalists:

  • Tim Bowling, The Tinsmith (Brindle & Glass Publishing)
  • Rawi Hage, Carnival (House of Anansi Press)
  • Alix Ohlin, Inside (House of Anansi Press)
  • Linda Spalding, The Purchase (McClelland & Stewart)

Each of the four finalists received $2,500. The winner and finalists were chosen by a jury of Lynn Coady, Esi Edugyan, and Drew Hayden Taylor. They read 116 books from 45 publishers. The prize is sponsored by Rogers Communications Inc.

Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award ($25,000)
Awarded to a writer in mid-career for a body of work.
Winner:

  • Nino Ricci

"There are layers upon layers of meaning within his stories, all of which are presented with profound empathy, with compassion not only for his characters but also for the messy human condition in which we invariably find ourselves."

The winner was chosen by a jury composed of Stan Dragland, Wayne Johnston, and Miriam Toews. The prize is sponsored by the Writers' Trust of Canada Board of Directors, Amazon.ca, and David Ellins.

Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life ($20,000)
Awarded to a writer dedicated to writing as a primary pursuit, for a body of work.
Winner:

  • Jean Little

"Jean was a pioneer Canadian author, standing almost alone as a major, internationally recognized Canadian children's author."

The winner was chosen by an award committee composed of Patsy Aldana, Graeme Gibson, and Wayne Grady. The prize is sponsored by Marla and David Lehberg.

Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature ($20,000)
Awarded to a writer of children's literature for a body of work.
Winner:

  • Paul Yee

"Paul Yee has contributed uniquely and powerfully to our literary landscape, bringing up many facets and varieties in the Canadian experience of immigration."

The winner was chosen by a jury of Deirdre Baker, Ronald Jobe, and Joanne Schwartz. The prize is sponsored by the Metcalf Foundation.

Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize ($10,000)
Awarded for the best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine.
Winner:

  • Alex Pugsley, "Crisis on Earth-X" (The Dalhousie Review)

"['Crisis on Earth-X'] broke our hearts in the way an excellent story can, so that we were glad to have them broken."

Finalists:

  • Kevin Hardcastle, "To Have to Wait" (The Malahat Review)
  • Andrew Hood, "Manning" (PRISM international)

Each of the finalists received $1,000, and the journal that originally published the winning entry received $2,000. The finalists were chosen by a jury of Michael Christie, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, and Kathleen Winter. They read 82 stories from 28 journals. The prize is made possible by James A. Michener's donation of his Canadian royalty earnings from his 1988 novel Journey. In association with the prize, McClelland & Stewart published an annual fiction anthology, The Journey Prize Stories, a collection of the 13 stories that formed the longlist for this year's prize.

Writers' Trust Award for Distinguished Contribution
Awarded to an individual or organization for long-standing involvement with the Writers' Trust and the Canadian literary community.
Winner:

  • Metcalf Foundation

"The Metcalf Foundation has for 50 years championed Canadian authors and helped bring recognition to the brightest members of our country's children's literature community."

The Writers' Trust Awards are made possible through generous support from corporate, foundation, and individual sponsors. The media partner, The Globe and Mail, provides additional support. The project is partially funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage Canada Book Fund. Partners supporting the program are Authors at Harbourfront Centre, Ben McNally Books, CBC Radio One, CityTV, Ecentricarts, Maclean's, Park Hyatt Toronto, Push Design, Quill & Quire, Steam Whistle Brewing, and The Walrus.

About the Writers' Trust
The Writers' Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs, including literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers' retreat. Writers' Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada's writers receive more financial support from the Writers' Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country.

SOURCE: The Writers' Trust of Canada

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For more information and interview opportunities contact:
Becky Toyne, 416-871-0502, bt@beckytoyne.com