Noreen Taylor Announces the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction Shortlist
Today, Noreen Taylor, prize founder and chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation announced the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize Shortlist before a breathless, standing-room-only crowd of publishers and journalists. The following five shortlisted books were culled from 12 titles on the RBC Taylor Prize Longlist which was released in December. The longlist was selected from 124 Canadian-authored non-fiction books submitted to this year's Prize by 45 publishers in 2013.
In alphabetical order the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize finalists are: Charlotte Gray (Ottawa, Ontario) The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial That Shocked a Country (HarperCollins); Thomas King (Guelph, Ontario) The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Doubleday Canada); J.B. MacKinnon (Vancouver, BC) The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be (Random House Canada); Graeme Smith (Afghanistan) The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan (Alfred A. Knopf Canada); and David Stouck (Vancouver, BC) Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life (Douglas & McIntyre)
Mrs. Taylor noted that since the inception of the Prize, "the depth and breadth of Canadian literary non-fiction writing has matured to such a degree that the mission of our jurors has become much more difficult. We appreciate their time and reflection in deriving such a strong Shortlist from an incredible Longlist that, in its entirety, represents a coming of age for our country's literary non-fiction writers."
New to the RBC Taylor Prize this year is the addition of the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers Award, to be given to a promising Canadian author of non-fiction selected by the winner of the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize. The recipient of the Emerging Writers Awards will receive $10,000 and the opportunity to be mentored under the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize winner.
"RBC Wealth Management is thrilled to continue its longstanding support of Canada 's most prestigious non-fiction prize," said Vijay Parmar, President, RBC PH&N Investment Counsel. "RBC is deeply committed to supporting talented young writers and their passion for literary excellence in Canada.The addition of this new award will help enable an emerging author to fully explore their talents and pave the way to a strong career in the arts."
The task of determining the best of this year's literary non-fiction submissions was undertaken by a trio of jurors with sterling credentials. Together British-based university professor and critic, Coral Ann Howells; editorial director, author and professor, James Polk; and author, English and creative writing instructor and former Charles Taylor Prize winner Andrew Westoll - reviewed all 124 books, submitted by 45 publishers from around the world.
Mr. Polk and Mr. Westoll each took turns introducing each of the finalists with the following citations:
Charlotte Gray for The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial That Shocked a Country, published by HarperCollins
The jury notes: "In 1915, a teenaged domestic servant shoots and kills her master, a scion of the rich and redoubtable Massey family in Toronto. Historian and biographer Charlotte Gray takes this incident as the starting gate for a fascinating tour not only of the sensational trial in post-Edwardian Toronto, but also of the social currents of the period: feminism, nationalism, imperialism, immigration, inequality of rich and poor -issues which reverberate today. Gray brilliantly creates a double narrative, with the famous trial intensively researched and re-enacted, and the state of the nation shown to mirror and complement the courtroom imbroglio. The Massey Murder is many things - a crime novel, a family history, a societal x-ray, set in the early months of World War One - all under the firm control of a masterful historian, researcher, and prose stylist."
Thomas King for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, published by Doubleday Canada
The jury notes: "Histories of North America's Native Peoples abound, but few are as subversive, entertaining, well-researched, hilarious, enraging, and finally as hopeful as this very personal take on our long relationship with the "inconvenient" Indian. King dissects idealized myths (noble Hiawatha, servile Tonto, the Sixties nature guru) against the tragic backdrop of real Indians abused in mission schools, penned together on reserves, and bludgeoned by vicious or ham-fisted government policies. A sharp, informed eye is cast on Riel, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull, on the dark and tangled stories of Native land claims, on Alcatraz, Will Rogers (a Cherokee), and the maid on Land o' Lakes butter; on Batoche, on Wounded Knee. In this thoughtful, irascible account, and in characteristically tricksterish mode, King presents a provocative alternative version of Canada's heritage narrative."