Bestselling children's author and illustrator Barbara Reid and novelists Colin McAdam and Lisa Moore earned kudos Wednesday night at the 13th annual Writers' Trust Awards in Toronto.

McAdam picked up the coveted $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for A Beautiful Truth. Partly set inside a Florida primate research facility, the novel is told both from the perspective of humans and chimpanzees.

"In prose both strange and startling, McAdam asks what, if anything, separates the human from the animal; he answers with heartbreaking honesty," the jury said of the Toronto writer's A Beautiful Truth.

"This is the kind of book you finish just to pick back up again, if only to figure out how he pulled it off."

St. John's writer Moore was among the fiction finalists, but won another prize instead: the $25,000 Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award, which celebrates a mid-career writer for his or her body of work.

"While Moore's canvas is contemporary Newfoundland — in particular the city of St. John’s where she lives — her understanding and portrayal of human character and relationships is universal," the jurors said.

Barbara Reid

Children's author and artist Barbara Reid is known for her "brilliant integration of text and illustration," namely the vibrant Plasticine sculptures of her books. (Ian Crysler/Writers' Trust of Canada)

Toronto's Barbara Reid, who is renowned for creating vibrantly illustrated children's stories in Plasticine sculpture, also received a career honour: the $20,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for literature for young people.

The judges hailed the Toronto writer and artist's "brilliant integration of text and illustration," adding that her "words seem to leave the lines and become enmeshed in the art. Her text is actually an understated guide to the detailed exuberance of the pictures."

Organizers awarded veteran investigative journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk the $20,000 Matt Cohen Award, saying the Calgary writer "cares deeply about accuracy, government accountability and the cumulative impacts of policies that affect all citizens."

Prizes were also awarded to:

  • Toronto-based writer Naben Ruthnum for Cinema Rex. He received the $10,000 Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, which acknowledges the best short story by an emerging writer, published in a Canadian literary journal.
  • Publisher McClelland & Stewart, which received the Writers' Trust Award for Distinguished Contribution. The prize is awarded to an individual or organization for a longstanding involvement in Canada's literary community.

The Writers' Trust of Canada was founded by Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Graeme Gibson, Margaret Laurence and David Young to nurture a flourishing writing community in Canada. The group celebrates and supports Canada's writers and literary community through various initiatives, including by distributing private sector funding.