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The Hilary Weston Prize: A 'Rock Star Party' for Canadian Non-Fiction

On an ordinary October week night, Graeme Smith would usually be somewhere far away from Toronto. He'd be in Afghanistan, most likely, the author told CBC Live. Maybe he'd be drinking tea. He wouldn't, however, be conversing over cocktails with Canadian socialites. 

But Smith is the winner of the 2013 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, and Monday at Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario, the foreign correspondent for the Globe & Mail claimed the award's $60,000 purse, winning for his book The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan

A five-member jury, which included CBC Power & Politics host Evan Solomon, selected Smith's account of the conflict over four other shortlisted titles: Thomas King's The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America; J.B. MacKinnon's The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be; Andrew Steinmetz's This Great Escape: The Case of Michael Paryla; Priscila Uppal's Projection: Encounters with my Runaway Mother

CBC Books has a full Q&A with Smith. Find out more about his book, which follows the years he spent covering the war in Afghanistan. And learn why he didn't give an acceptance speech upon reaching the podium, but rather recited Emily Dickinson when the show's MC, CBC Radio's Shelagh Rogers, handed him his prize.

But the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust prize is about more than just a trophy, it's an opportunity to celebrate the great non-fiction being published in Canada in a given year. That sort of thing is the No. 1 excuse for a party, so CBC Live's cameras captured the lounge-inspired scene. See how guests including Smith, Shelagh Rogers, Evan Solomon and the prize's sponsor, the Honourable Hilary Weston, enjoyed the night.


For more on the 2013 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize visit CBC Books.

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