Charles Taylor Prize shortlist

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With past recipients including Richard Gwyn, Carol Shields, Ian Brown and Charles Foran, the annual Charles Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction is one of the country's most prestigious awards.

Below are the five finalists for the $25,000 award. Click through the links to see interviews with the authors, video and audio clips, book reviews, and more. The 2012 Charles Taylor Prize winner will be announced on March 5, 2012.


Get to know the five shortlisted books better below.



Into The Silence by Wade Davis

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About the book: An anthropologist and adventurer, Wade Davis is something of an Indiana Jones-like figure. But in Into The Silence, Davis looks at the history of another explorer: British mountaineer George Mallory. Davis chronicles Mallory's doomed journey to the summit of Mount Everest and contextualizes his motivations to embark on such a dangerous trip. It's a gripping tale that's been thoroughly researched and vigorously penned by one of Canada's best-known travel writers. Read more >>

As It Happens: Wade Davis reads from Into the Silence:
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Canada Writes: Wade Davis takes the Laferrière Questionnaire

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight: Wade Davis and the 'twilight shadow of hell'

Author essay: Wade Davis on climbing a literary Everest


Video: Wade Davis on his next project:






Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gill

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About the book: Charlotte Gill went through year of back-breaking work as a professional tree-planter, but came away with a book's worth of stories about this strange but special world. Described by the Charles Taylor Prize jury as "surprisingly unsentimental," Gill's memoir "shares her love for Canada's boreal forests, the tragedy of their disappearances and the gruelling work involved in replacing them." Read more >>

As It Happens: Charlotte Gill reads from Eating Dirt

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Radio West: Charlotte Gill on tree-planting

North by Northwest: Charlotte Gill discusses Eating Dirt

CBC Books: Nora Young reads from Eating Dirt

Author essay: Charlotte Gill on becoming a tree planter


Video: Charlotte Gill on her next project:









The Measure of a Man by JJ Lee

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About the book: The Measure of a Man offers a touching reflection on fathers and sons as well as a fascinating look at the social history of menswear. JJ Lee is a journalist and an amateur tailor, so when he decided to alter his late father's suit he set out to do the alterations himself and write about the experience. In the process, he found himself reflecting on the past and his relationship with his dad. 

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As It Happens: J.J. Lee reads from The Measure of a Man:
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The Next Chapter: J.J. Lee's extended interview

Canada Writes: J.J. Lee on where you draw the line

North by Northwest: J.J. Lee speaks with Sheryl MacKay

IDEAS: Lee on the social history of the suit

Author essay: J.J. Lee on his writing desk


Video: J.J. Lee on his next project:







Afflictions & Departures by Madeline Sonik

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About the book: Victoria-based author and writing teacher Madeline Sonik presents a collection of essays and experimental non-fiction writing exploring her coming of age during the tumultuous 1960s and 70s. "Droll, tragic, and absolutely compelling, Afflictions and Departures is a visceral portrayal of a family imploding," the jury said.

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As It Happens: Madeline Sonik reads from Afflictions & Departures:
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Author essay: Madeline Sonik on her book launch

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The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll

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About the book: Fifteen years ago, a family of chimpanzees lived in a medical research facility. They were subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment: they were confined to tiny cages, were isolated from family and loved ones, and were involuntary participants in medical experiments and experimental surgeries. They were eventually rescued and brought to Fauna Sanctuary, a refuge in Quebec. Journalist and former primatologist Andrew Westoll spent months volunteering there, and chronicles this remarkable journey in The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary.

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As It Happens: Andrew Westoll reads from The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary:
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The Sunday Edition: Andrew Westoll on treating rescused chimps

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight: Andrew Westoll on the chimps' great escape

Author essay: Andrew Westoll on living in a chimp house



Video: Andrew Westoll on his next project: