West Coast Authors Rock the Literary Awards

By / Food / January 16th, 2012 / 1

Congratulations West Coast, four of the five authors shortlisted for the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize For Literary Non-Fiction call British Columbia home. The only other author on the list is Andrew Westoll from Ontario. The final five were chosen from 115 authors. The winner will be awarded $25000, and runners-up will receive $2000 each along with extensive book promotion packages.

Here are the books and some quotes from the jury.

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.”


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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