Diplomat Robert Fowler's tale of his kidnapping and captivity, a memoir by CBC foreign correspondent Nahlah Ayed and an examination of public transit around the globe are in the running for one of Canada's top non-fiction literary honours.
The British Columbia Achievement Foundation has announced a long list of 10 authors vying for the annual B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, which carries a cash prize of $40,000.
Former Canadian diplomat Fowler is nominated for A Season in Hell: My 130 Days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda, which revisits how he was kidnapped and held for almost five months, but lived to tell the tale.
CBC journalist Ayed was chosen for A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter's Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring. The memoir, which is also a finalist for this year's Governor General's Literary Award, moves from her childhood in Winnipeg to her experiences reporting from the Middle East.
The organizers tapped Montreal-based journalist and writer Taras Grescoe, known for books like Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, for his most recent non-fiction book. An ode to public transit and the commuters who use it, Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile is also a nominee for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-fiction.
Another Weston Prize finalist made the first cut for the B.C. honour: Saskatchewan-based writer Candace Savage for her book A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape.
Former Canadian poet laureate George Bowering is a contender for his witty Pinboy: A Memoir, which revisits his youth in the Okanagan Valley in the 1950s.
Rounding out the long list are:
- Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age by Toronto historian Modris Eksteins.
- Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy by Canadian-born, U.K.-based historian Andrew Preston. The book is also nominated for the Cundill Prize in History.
- The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen by Alberta-based Stephen R. Bown.
- Walls: Travels Along the Barricades by Calgary writer Marcello Di Cintio.
- here we are among the living: a memoir in emails by Samantha Bernstein of Toronto.
Altogether, publishers submitted 143 books for consideration.
This year's jury — former Vancouver Public Library City Librarian Paul Whitney, Globe and Mail books editor Martin Levin and publishing industry veteran Jan Whitford — will release a short list to be announced on Dec. 4.
The winner will be named at a gala in Vancouver in early 2013.
Previous recipients of the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction include Charlotte Gill for Eating Dirt, John Vaillant for The Tiger, Ian Brown for The Boy in the Moon and Russell Wangersky for Burning Down the House.