Memoirs make the cut for $25,000 RBC Taylor prize short list
Memoirs dominate the short list for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize, with a wide range of works that explore the Silk Road, fatherhood, coming of age in a world of violence and trauma, a life of music and caring for elderly parents.
Each of the finalists will each receive $5,000, with the overall winner receiving an additional $25,000 prize. In the running are:
- by Bill Gaston (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Canada), a “quiet, meditative and tender-hearted exploration of childhood injury and its legacy across generations,” said the jury citation.
- by Ian Hampton (Porcupine’s Quill), a reflection on a life in music, structured around 35 pieces, and chronicling, according to the jury’s citation “the trials and triumphs of a life devoted to music and defined by the people he worked with and loved.”
- by Kate Harris (Knopf Canada). When she was young, Harris wanted to go to Mars. She didn’t make it there, but she did trace Marco Polo’s Silk Road by bicycle.
- Elizabeth Hay (McClelland & Stewart). Hay explores how the dynamics in her family changed when she became caregiver to her parents, both formidable figures. The book has already won the 2018 Hilary Weston Prize for Nonfiction, worth $60,000.
- by Darrel J. McLeod (Douglas & McIntyre), his Governor General’s Literary Award-winning memoir that talks about the scars of residential school and the need for reconciliation. The word “Mamaskatch” means “shared dream” in Cree.
The short list was whittled down from a long list of 10 books from authors that included CBC TV star Mark Critch for , Terese Marie Mailhot for her Writers’ Trust and Governor General’s Award-nominated memoir and, somewhat ironically, former governor general David Johnston for his book .
The finalists were chosen by author and memoir writer Camilla Gibb, Roy MacGregor and former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin. They read more than 115 books from Canadian and international publishers.
Readers have the chance to hear the finalists at two public events: one hosted by the Star’s books editor in the Brigantine Room at Harbourfront Centre on Feb. 28, and at a Ben McNally Books and Brunch on March 3 at the Omni King Edward Hotel.
The prize will be handed out at a gala luncheon on Monday, March 4, also at the hotel known locally as the King Eddie.
The Taylor prize was founded in 1998 by the trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation, including his wife, Noreen Taylor, the foundation’s chair, to commemorate journalist Charles Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in the field of literary nonfiction.
Deborah Dundas is the Star’s Books editor. She is based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: debdundas