TORONTO, Jan. 9, 2019 – At a standing-room-only press conference held in downtown Toronto, the RBC Taylor Prize jury announced the five finalists for the eighteenth RBC Taylor Prize, selected from their previously announced ten-title longlist. In all, the jury, composed of Camilla Gibb, Roy MacGregor and Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin read and evaluated over 115 non-fiction books by Canadian writers submitted by Canadian and international publishers.
The shortlist and jury citations for the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize are:
Just Let Me Look at You: On Fatherhood, by Bill Gaston, published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Canada
Bill Gaston sets out on a solitary journey eighty miles across the Salish Sea in a boat he describes as “a piece of junk.” He’s heading back to the bittersweet place where he spent time as a child living aboard a boat with his father, learning to fish and learning to be wary of the fluctuations in his father’s moods when he drank. This is a quiet, meditative and tender-hearted exploration of childhood injury and its legacy across generations.
Jan in 35 Pieces: A Memoir in Music, by Ian Hampton, published by Porcupine’s Quill
Cellist Ian Hampson has created a lyrical reflection on the world of music and classical composers and musicians in the seven decades since World War II. Beautifully written, the book is structured around thirty-five pieces of memorable music. In vivid strokes, Hampson introduces us to the great conductors, performers and composers he encountered as a musician in England, California and finally, the west coast of Canada. Along the way, he introduces us to some of the finest music the world has produced. By turns reflective and humorous, this beautifully paced book chronicles the trials and triumphs of a life devoted to music and defined by the people he worked with and loved.
Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road, by Kate Harris, published by Knopf Canada.
From her vantage point of a student of the history of science, explorer and adventurer, Kate Harris presents a rare and unique vision of world, and explores the nature of boundaries. Unable to realize her childhood dream of travelling to Mars, she decides to trace Marco Polo’s Silk Road by bicycle. Vivid descriptions of the places and people she meets inspire deep and eclectic reflections on the nature of the world, wilderness, and the struggle of humans to define and limit them. This is a book that changes how one thinks about the world and the human compulsion to define it.
All Things Consoled: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Elizabeth Hay, published by McClelland & Stewart
In this brilliant and honest memoir, Elizabeth Hay traces the final decline of her parents — her father, a proud and ambitious school teacher possessed of a terrifying temper and moods of melancholy, and her mother, who kept the family peace and reconciled herself to life through painting. As she cares for her parents in their final days, Elizabeth — the difficult daughter — describes the truth of who they are and what they did. Tender, witty and brutally honest, the book tears open the cloak of shared secrecy to bare the dynamics of a family — the fears, sibling rivalries, joys, disappointments and grievances that have lain unacknowledged through the decades.
Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age, by Darrel McLeod, published by Douglas & MacIntyre.
A torturously-beautiful memoir of growing up in a world of violence and family trauma. McLeod’s writing is lyrical and offers a powerful examination of contemporary issues, from sexual self-identification to the scars of residential school to the contemporary search for reconciliation. “Mamaskatch” means “shared dream” in Cree, and while there are unavoidable nightmares along the journey, there are also dreams of hope, at times of exquisite beauty and renewed pride.
Noreen Taylor, founder of the Prize and chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation, spoke at the event and made these comments: “One of the many joys of my “job” is being brought into the orbit, on the page and in person, of the many astounding storytellers and truthsayers of our country. The searches that they describe — for truth, for reconciliation of all sorts, and for beauty, in people, art, nature — give us pause to consider the world and the people around us, and give us hope”.
Also in attendance was Vijay Parmar, president of RBC PH&N Investment Counsel, who added: “Congratulations to each of the authors who have been shortlisted for this year’s RBC Taylor Prize. This list reflects the best of Canadian non-fiction writers and celebrates their achievements. RBC Wealth Management is proud to sponsor the Prize as it helps put our country’s distinctive voice on the global literary stage by shining a spotlight on our talented writers from coast-to-coast.”
Public events already confirmed for the finalists include a free 90-minute Round Table Discussion with the shortlisted authors in the Brigantine Room at Harbourfront, hosted by Toronto Star Books Editor, Deborah Dundas, on Thursday February 28, 2018 at 7pm presented by the Toronto International Festival of Authors; and the Ben McNally Authors Brunch on Sunday March 3rd, at the Omni King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto (for tickets, please contact Ben McNally Books at 416 361-0032 or visit benmcnallybooks.com).
The RBC Taylor Prize winner will be revealed at a gala luncheon on Monday March 4th, 2018. The Prize luncheon will once again be held at the Omni King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto.
About The RBC Taylor Prize
Established in 1998 by the trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation and first awarded in 2000, 2019 marks the eighteenth awarding of the RBC Taylor Prize, which commemorates Charles Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. Awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception, the Prize consists of $5,000 for each of the finalists, and a further $25,000 for the winner. All authors are presented with a custom leather bound version of their shortlisted book at the awards ceremony. All finalists receive promotional support for their nominated titles.
Sharing a commitment to emerging Canadian talent, The Charles Taylor Foundation and RBC will also grant the sixth annual RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers Award. Shortly after the announcement of the 2019 Prize, its winner will name their choice of emerging author to receive this $10,000 award.
Continuing that commitment to emerging Canadian talent, we will again present the RBC Taylor Prize Emergent Author Mentorship Program, of nationally selected non-fiction writers from several of the many prestigious writing programs in Canada. The five selected Emergent writers will be paired with a shortlisted author and will travel to Toronto for professional development and mentorship.
The trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation are: Vijay Parmar, David Staines, Edward Taylor, Nadina Taylor, and Noreen Taylor. The Prize Manager is Sheila Kay.
The presenting sponsor of the RBC Taylor Prize is RBC Wealth Management. Its media sponsors are The Globe and Mail, Cision, Quill & Quire magazine; its in-kind sponsors are Ben McNally Books, Event Source, TIFA, and the Omni King Edward Hotel. Open Book is a Friend of the Prize.
For general information about the Prize please go to: www.rbctaylorprize.ca.
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