The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction 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.
“When scholar and writer Priscila Uppal travels to Brazil to reunite with her mother, the result is a narrative that is bizarre, hilarious, and poignantly painful. Uppal attempts to circumnavigate the truth and lies around the circumstances that caused her mother to abandon 8-year-old Uppal, her brother, and her quadriplegic father more than thirty years ago. But the deeper she goes into the past, the more she is confronted with a haunting mirror image of herself. How much of her mother’s tangled web of self-absorbed, Hollywood-inflected dramas has seeped into her own essential nature?” – Jury Citation
“The stated purpose of Andrew Steinmetz’s This Great Escape is simple – to profile the actor Michael Paryla, a distant relative of the author, whose crowning glory (just before his sudden and possibly accidental death from an overdose in Hamburg) was an uncredited 57-second appearance in the iconic WWII movie The Great Escape. But under Steinmetz’s obsessive, poetic gaze, the focus gradually expands to capture both writer and reader in the frame. In this innovative and unexpectedly funny book, no one, not even the most insignificant bit player, makes a clean escape.” – Jury Citation
The Dogs are Eating Them Now: our war in Afghanistan (M)
by Graeme Smith
“When Graeme Smith travelled to the war in Afghanistan as a young and idealistic journalist in 2005, he fully believed that the international community could “bring the whole basket of civilization to [this country]: peace, democracy, the rule of law.” The Dogs Are Eating Them Now is his painfully detailed, eyebrow-raising account of what he saw during his six years of reporting on that effort for the Globe and Mail: a tragic mix of cultural ignorance, miscommunication, greed, brutality, and political naivete that no amount of individual courage and dedication could ultimately overcome. A graphic but determinedly even-handed memoir that does much to counter the reams of official spin this topic has endured over the years” – Jury Citation
The Once and Future World: nature as it was, as it is, as it could be (M) by J.B. MacKinnon
“In The Once and Future World, J. B. MacKinnon — until now probably best known as co-author of The 100-Mile Diet — ventures into the darkness of the extinction crisis and discovers unexpected resources of possibility, wonder, and hope. Even as he surveys the damage to what he calls our 10% world, he is struck by the enduring capacity of nature to sustain an abundance and variety of life, a potential that remains as powerful as ever. Smart and subtle, enlightened by original thought, and buoyed by lyricism and wit, this is a book that repays successive readings with undiminished pleasure.” – Jury Citation
The Inconvenient Indian: a curious account of native people in North America (M) by Thomas King
“With wit, grace, and searing anger, Thomas King explores the post-contact history of indigenous people in Canada and the United States. Along the way, King argues that, curiously, very little has changed over the last 400 years. The Indian remains unwanted and in the way – inconvenient. A book leavened with rage, sorrow, and humour, this is a powerful reflection on the past, present, and future of the Native experience.” – Jury Citation