Four West Coast Authors Make Their Mark at The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction 2012 Shortlist Announcements

TORONTO, Jan. 10, 2012 /CNW/ - Four of the five authors named to the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize For Literary Non-Fiction  Shortlist live and work in the  Province of  British Columbia. At a morning news conference in Toronto it was announced that  Wade Davis, Charlotte Gill, JJ Lee, Madeline Sonik and Andrew Westoll are finalists for the  prestigious annual award. Andrew Westoll is the lone Ontario author on the list.

At the press conference Noreen Taylor, chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation and founder of the prize, announced that the 2012 prize jury, composed of authors Allan M. Brandt and Stevie Cameron and non-fiction publishing consultant Susan Renouf,  read 115 books, submitted by 35 publishers from around the world. Mrs. Taylor went on to introduce Ms Cameron and Ms Renouf, who in turn announced the 2012 prize shortlist, as follows:

The 2012 Charles Taylor Prize Finalists for Literary Non-Fiction Finalists are:

Vancouver's Wade Davis for Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada

The jury notes: "In this monumental volume, Wade Davis narrates explorer George Mallory's heroic attempt to scale Everest following the Great War. With remarkable new research in previously unexplored British archives and in the Himalayas, Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest powerfully links the devastating carnage and demoralization of the War to the transcendent aspiration of Mallory and his compatriots to ascend Everest. With skill and insight, Davis explores the meaning of this valorous yet tragic climb for post-war Britain and the world."

Sunshine Coast's Charlotte Gill for Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe, published by Greystone Books

The jury notes: "Only a writer as skilled as Charlotte Gill could make the back-breaking work of planting more than a million seedlings sound like one of life's essential adventures. In a carefully balanced story of science, business and friendship, and one that is surprisingly unsentimental, Gill shares her love for Canada's boreal forests, the tragedy of their disappearances and the grueling work involved in replacing them. Reader, you might finish this book feeling relieved you don't plant trees -- but you will be wishing you could."

Vancouver's JJ Lee for The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit, published by McClelland & Stewart

The jury notes: "As an experienced radio current affairs producer, JJ Lee knew what it took to make a good story though he never expected his own life to end up in a book. The Measure of a Man, Lee's account of trying to remake one of his late father's old suits into one for himself, began as a CBC Radio documentary. An editor suggested it would make a good book. She was right. Beautifully crafted, Lee's memoir is a heartbreaking page-turner about a family, an abusive father, and men's fashion. Who could have thought these themes could work together? In his first book, Lee has shown us how."

Victoria's Madeline Sonik for Afflictions & Departures: Essays, published by Anvil Press

The jury notes: "Startlingly original, Madeline Sonik's moving story of her childhood defies all our expectations of memoir. She captures crystalline moments of childhood memory and links them in a daisy-chain with corresponding events of the tumultuous societal change taking place outside her home. It is North America in the 1960s and 70s and her letter-perfect, child's-eye view of the world brings back that time with such intensity that the reader can almost smell and taste it. Droll, tragic, and absolutely compelling, Afflictions and Departures is a visceral portrayal of a family imploding."

Toronto's Andrew Westoll for The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery, published by HarperCollins Publishers

The jury notes: "Brilliantly blending science and storytelling, primatologist and author Andrew Westoll takes us deep into the world of the haunted and haunting rescued research chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. Pulled from decades of horrific lab conditions, rescued chimps live out the balance of their long lives in sanctuaries such as Fauna, cared for and loved by an extraordinary group of people. Westoll deftly draws the reader into the wild day-to-day ride of life with the Fauna chimps and soon their Otherness falls away. Through his lens, the chimps are revealed as the individuals they are, with all their foibles, damage, and possibility - and the reader's world view shifts on its axis. Heartrending and heart-warming, this is a stunning and important work of art and documentary and science."

The prestigious Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction recognizes excellence in Canadian non-fiction writing and emphasizes the development of the careers of the authors it celebrates. Since its inception, the prize has fostered a growing interest in non-fiction, engaged Canadians in the genre of literary non-fiction, and boosted sales of the winning authors' books. Founded in commemoration of the late Charles Taylor, one of Canada's foremost essayists and a prominent member of the Canadian literary community, the prize is awarded annually to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception.

The 2012 prize finalists will speak at Ben McNally's Authors Brunch on Sunday, March 4, 2012. For tickets, please visit The prize winner will be announced at a Gala Luncheon and Awards Ceremony on Sunday, March 5 at Le Meridien King Edward Hotel. The winner will be featured at the International Festival of Authors in October, 2012. The prize consists of $25,000 for the winning author and $2,000 for the runners-up, in addition to extensive promotion and publicity to help all books stand out in the national media, bookstores, and libraries.

The presenting sponsor of The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction is RBC Wealth Management. The Charles Taylor Foundation further acknowledges the generous support of Windfields Farm, its major sponsor, and the support of media sponsors which include CNW Group, CBC Books, The Globe and Mail, and Quill & Quire magazine; and In-kind sponsors Ben McNally Books, Event Source, Indigo Books and Music, Kobo Inc., The International Festival of Authors, Le Meridien King Edward Hotel, and The Toronto Review of Books.

To download high-resolution images of the jury, finalists, and shortlisted titles,

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For information on the authors and their shortlisted titles, click on or key in the publishers' website addresses noted below each book.

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis, published by Knopf Canada

Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe by Charlotte Gill, published by Greystone Books

The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit by J. J. Lee, published by McClelland & Stewart

Afflictions and Departures: Essays by Madeline Sonik, published by Anvil Press

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery by Andrew Westoll, published by HarperCollins

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