Hon. Hilary M. Weston and the Writers' Trust Present $60,000 Literary Award to Candace Savage for Disquieting Prairie Memoir

The Honourable Hilary M. Weston with prize winner Candace Savage. (CNW Group/The Writers' Trust of Canada)

TORONTO, Nov. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - The Writers' Trust of Canada announced tonight that Candace Savage has won the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape, published by Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Foundation. The prize is the richest annual literary award for a book of nonfiction published in Canada.

The prize was awarded by the Honorable Hilary M. Weston in Toronto's Koerner Hall, located in the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning. The event was hosted by Albert Schultz, the founding artistic director of Soulpepper Theatre Company. Along with the $60,000 prize, Savage received a sculpture created by crystal artist Mark Raynes Roberts.

Prize finalists were selected by a jury of writer and former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario James Bartleman, writer and past prize finalist Charlotte Gill, and writer and nonfiction writing instructor Marni Jackson. In selecting the winner they were joined by Maclean's columnist Barbara Amiel Black and CTV National News correspondent Seamus O'Regan. Their citation reads:

                  One day in late September of 2000, Candace Savage travels from her home in Saskatoon to Eastend, a village of 600 people on the eastern edge of the Cypress Hills. A two-week vacation evolves into a decade-long fascination with the region and the writing of A Geography of Blood, a part-memoir, part history, part geological survey, part lament, part condemnation of the accepted myth of the settlement of the Western Plains, and above all, a haunting meditation on time and place.

Candace Savage splits her time between Saskatoon and Eastend, Saskatchewan. She is the author of Prairie: A Natural History, which was named Book of the Year at the Saskatchewan Book Awards in 2004. A celebrated writer of dozens of books and essays, Savage writes on a wide range of topics, from the cosmic science of the aurora to the inner workings of a beehive. In 2010, she was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in recognition of her scholarly and artistic achievements. Savage is the co-sponsor of a private grassland restoration project and also sits on the Saskatchewan board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Four finalists for this year's prize received $5,000 each:

  • Kamal Al-Solaylee for Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Modris Eksteins for Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age (Knopf Canada)
  • Taras Grescoe for Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • JJ Lee for The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit (McClelland & Stewart)

Renowned Canadian performers enlivened the evening with dramatic readings of the nominated titles. These special guests were: Kawa Ada, playwright in residence at Cahoots Theatre; Ins Choi, actor and playwright; Gordon Pinsent, revered actor of the stage and screen; Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC Radio One's The Next Chapter; and Adam Vaughan, Toronto City Councillor.

To further the teaching of contemporary Canadian nonfiction, the prize produced a resource booklet for Canadian high-school educators as a tool with which to introduce the writing and ideas of the prize finalists to young readers. This booklet will be distributed to select schools across the country and will be available for free download from the iBookstore. Additionally, a series of school visits will be organized to bring the prize finalists into high schools in their communities and connect young readers with their work.

"This year's prize finalists demonstrate an awe inspiring level of range, ambition, and eloquence," said Mrs. Weston. "I am truly honored to recognize these writers and I encourage readers at home and abroad to discover the terrific creative nonfiction-writing talents Canada is producing."

"This prize helps encourage and inspire current and future writers of nonfiction in Canada," said Peter Kahnert, Writers' Trust Chair and senior vice-president, Raymond James Ltd. "We are grateful to Mrs. Weston, whose leadership and generosity have made this career-altering prize a gem of Canada's literary landscape."

The Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize is grateful to Loblaw Companies Limited for making the five prize finalists titles available in more than 200 Loblaw banner stores nationwide. Additional support for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize is provided by media partners CBC Books and The Globe and Mail.

For more information on this year's finalists and to download high-resolution images of the nominated authors and their books, visit writerstrust.com.

About Mrs. Hilary M. Weston, CM, OOnt
Mrs. Hilary M. Weston served as the 26th lieutenant-governor of Ontario from 1997 to 2002. As the Queen's representative in Ontario, Mrs. Weston was responsible for the Crown's constitutional and representational roles in the province. Since leaving public office, Mrs. Weston has continued to pursue her diverse interests. She led Renaissance ROM, the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian cultural history, transforming the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She is a trustee of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and serves on the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Mrs. Weston is also a corporate director of Wittington Investments and Selfridges Group Ltd. She has also served as deputy chair of the board of Holt Renfrew, promoting Canadian designers in the retailing business.

Mrs. Weston founded the Ireland Fund of Canada and remains a patron of this non-denominational organization promoting peace in Ireland. Her interests in homes and gardens resulted in the publication of In a Canadian Garden (1989) and At Home in Canada (1995). She served as first chancellor of the Order of Ontario, was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2003, and is the recipient of six honorary degrees.

About the Prize
The prize is awarded for literary excellence in the category of nonfiction, which includes, among other forms, personal or journalistic essays, history, biography, memoirs, commentary, and criticism, both social and political. Finalist works will, in the opinion of the jury, demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique. This award succeeds the Writers' Trust Nonfiction Prize, which was established in 1997.

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.

Image with caption: "The Honourable Hilary M. Weston with prize winner Candace Savage. (CNW Group/The Writers' Trust of Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121113_C7033_PHOTO_EN_20542.jpg

SOURCE: The Writers' Trust of Canada

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Becky Toyne, 416-871-0502, bt@beckytoyne.com