Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize 2012 Shortlist

Explore this year's shortlist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. You can find out more about the books and check out interviews with the authors in these book pages.




Intolerable

About the book: Part coming-out memoir, part contemporary Middle Eastern history and part cultural analysis, Intolerable is Kamal Al-Solaylee's chronicle of his painful family history. Al-Solaylee is well known to Canadians for his journalism and cultural criticism -- he was the theatre critic at the Globe and Mail for many years. But he was quiet about his background until writing Intolerable. In the book, he describes growing up in the Middle East at a time of enormous political strife and religious intolerance, coming to terms with his identity as a gay man, and escaping to get an education and build a life for himself in England and then here in Canada.

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Solar Dance

About the book: University of Toronto history professor Modris Eksteins has written several acclaimed books about modern European cultural history, including Rites of Spring, which won the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize and the Trillium Award, and Walking Since Daybreak, which won the Pearson Writers' Trust Prize in 1999. His newest book, Solar Dance, is an exploration of the bizarre and enthralling story of Berlin art dealer Otto Wacker, the last days of Vincent Van Gogh, and Wacker's scandalous role selling forgeries of 33 Van Gogh paintings, all against the backdrop of Weimar Germany.

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Strap Hanger

About the book: North American infrastructure forces a majority of people to rely on cars. In Strap Hanger, journalist Taras Grescoe examines the best and worst of public transit around the world. The book is a treatise that challenges our current dependence on car culture and envisions a future in which convenient and affordable mass transit is the norm. Grescoe's previous book, Bottomfeeder, which examined the world of sustainable seafood, won this very nonfiction prize in 2008.

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The Measure of a Man

About the book: In JJ Lee's sartorial memoir, the author describes altering his father's last surviving suit to fit himself, a task that brings him to reflect on his father's history through his clothing. He also chronicles his own personal ups and downs as an apprentice tailor in Vancouver, and the social history of the man's suit. The Measure of a Man has been no stranger to award shortlists recently -- the book has also been nominated for the Charles Taylor Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award and the B.C. Book Prizes' Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.

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A Geography of Blood

About the book: Candace Savage is no stranger to the prairie -- she was almost born in a pickup truck in the middle of the flatlands of Canada. Savage is a well-known nature writer who has written books on a variety of topics from bees to crows to the northern lights. Her passion for the prairie landscape in particular has resulted in two books, 2004's Prairie: A Natural History, and this year's A Geography of Blood, in which she explores the dark history of the mysterious Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan.

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