Meet the editor with the secret weapon behind three award-winning Canadian books

Martha Kanya-Forstner is the editor behind three books that just won the Giller Prize and Writers’ Trust awards.

Martha Kanya-Forstner, holding the three award-winning books she edited, at Penguin Random House office. (VINCE TALOTTA / TORONTO STAR)

Behind every award-winning author is a silent partner, an editor who polishes a rough diamond into a literary gem.

Martha Kanya-Forstner of Penguin Random House — though her official title is editor-in-chief of both Doubleday Canada and McClelland & Stewart — has the rare distinction of being the editor behind three of the season’s biggest prizewinning books.

They include: Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square, which won the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize; David Chariandy’s novel Brother, which won the $50,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; and James Maskalyk’s Life on the Ground Floor, winner of the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

“There’s no rawer time in an author’s life than when you’re going through the final stages of editing,” says Redhill. “I think a great editor is part therapist, part technician and part confessor.”