Writ­ers’ Trust award win­ners an­nounced at Toronto gala

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - NEWS - BRAD WHEELER

Books cover top­ics rang­ing from the lim­its of medicine to post­par­tum de­pres­sion

Dr. James Maska­lyk’s Life on the Ground Floor: Let­ters from the Edge of

Emer­gency Medicine is the win­ner of this year’s Hi­lary We­ston Writ­ers’ Trust Prize for Non­fic­tion.

The an­nounce­ment was made on Tues­day at the Writ­ers’ Trust Awards cer­e­mony at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Stu­dio, where seven awards and more than $260,000 in prize purses were pre­sented to writ­ers across the coun­try.

The mem­oir from Dr. Maska­lyk was drawn from his ex­pe­ri­ence at St. Michael’s Hospi­tal in Toronto and Black Lion Hospi­tal in Ethiopia’s cap­i­tal, Ad­dis Ababa. The jury praised the work for re­veal­ing the “com­pelling uni­ver­sal truths about the power, and lim­its, of medicine, the strength of hu­man will, and the frag­ile, in­fin­i­tes­i­mal gap be­tween dy­ing and liv­ing.”

The ER physi­cian and au­thor takes home the Trust’s rich­est prize, $60,000, while the other four fi­nal­ists (in­clud­ing Tanya Talaga, Ivan Coy­ote, Kyo Ma­clear and CBC Ra­dio’s Carol Off) re­ceive $5,000.

David Char­iandy of Van­cou­ver re­ceived the Rogers Writ­ers’ Trust Fic­tion Prize for Brother, a comin­gof-age story about two sons of Trinida­dian im­mi­grants. The award, for the year’s best novel or short-story col­lec­tion, comes with a $50,000 prize – dou­ble the purse of a year ago. The jury noted Mr. Char­iandy’s “stun­ning lyri­cal writ­ing, pitch per­fect pac­ing, and un­ex­pected hu­mour.”

The Writ­ers’ Trust/McClel­land & Ste­wart Jour­ney Prize, in recog­ni­tion of best short fic­tion pub­lished by an emerg­ing writer in a Cana­dian lit­er­ary mag­a­zine, went to Sharon Bala for But­ter Tea at Star­bucks. The story about sis­ters, post­par­tum de­pres­sion and the pol­i­tics of Ti­bet was pub­lished in the The New Quar­terly. The jury sin­gled out the New­found­land-based Ms. Bala for writ­ing that “wades un­afraid into com­plex­ity and con­tro­versy.”

Four awards were also pre­sented to au­thors based on their body of work.

Louise Ber­nice Halfe re­ceived the Lat­ner Writ­ers’ Trust Po­etry Prize, worth $25,000.

A for­mer poet lau­re­ate of Saskatchewan, known for weav­ing Cree lan­guage and teach­ings into her works, Ms. Halfe was de­scribed by the jury as an “ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ry­teller.”

In­clud­ing last week’s award­ing of the Writ­ers’ Trust Fel­low­ship, seven In­dige­nous au­thors have been hon­oured as nom­i­nees or win­ners by the Trust this fall.

The re­cip­i­ent of the Vicky Met­calf Award for Lit­er­a­ture for Young Peo­ple is Ruby Slip­per­jack, a mem­ber of the Eabame­toong First Na­tion, now $25,000 richer. She was hailed by the jury as a “trail-breaker” in the field of In­dige­nous lit­er­a­ture and of chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture in gen­eral.

Ms. Slip­per­jack re­cently re­tired as a pro­fes­sor at Lake­head Univer­sity in Thun­der Bay, home­town of Diane Schoem­perlen, win­ner of the Matt Cohen Award: In Cel­e­bra­tion of a Writ­ing Life, worth $25,000. The nov­el­ist and short-story spe­cial­ist was rec­og­nized for a ca­reer in which she “dis­sected not only gen­res, but words them­selves.”

Fi­nally, Van­cou­ver’s Bil­lie Liv­ingston, a nov­el­ist, es­say­ist and poet whose work is “mas­ter­fully crafted, jammed with vivid de­tail,” re­ceived the $25,000 Writ­ers’ Trust En­gel/Find­ley Award, which goes to a writer in mid­ca­reer.

Last year’s win­ner of that award was Eden Robinson, a nov­el­ist and mem­ber of the Haisla and Heilt­suk First Na­tions of Bri­tish Columbia, who a week ago was named this year’s re­cip­i­ent of the $50,000 Writ­ers’ Trust Fel­low­ship.

For her novel Son of a Trick­ster, Ms. Robinson is also one of the five short­listed nov­el­ists in con­tention for this year’s Sco­tia­bank Giller Prize.

The win­ner will be an­nounced on Nov. 20 and will be awarded $100,000, Canada’s sin­gle rich­est lit­er­ary prize.

WRIT­ERS’ TRUST AWARDS PHO­TOS

James Maska­lyk, left, was awarded the $60,000 Hi­lary We­ston Writ­ers’ Trust Prize for Non­fic­tion for Life on the Ground Floor: Let­ters from the Edge of Emer­gency Medicine. David Char­iandy, cen­tre, re­ceived the $50,000 Rogers Writ­ers’ Trust Fic­tion Prize for Brother. Sharon Bala re­ceived the $10,000 Writ­ers’ Trust/McClel­land & Ste­wart Jour­ney Prize for But­ter Tea at Star­bucks.

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