Lawrence Hill and Anna Porter were among the authors honoured in Toronto on Tuesday night at the annual Writers' Trust Awards.
Burlington, Ont., writer Hill's The Book of Negroes won the $15,000 fiction prize, beating out finalists including M.G. Vassanji and Robert Hough. Each finalist receives $2,000.
A three-member jury hailed Hill's novel as "a provocative, humane journey into the unfathomable depths of the soul of another."
A portrait of colonial times told through the story of a woman kidnapped by slave traders, The Book of Negroes is also a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for best book after being declared winner for the Canada and Caribbean region.
Though best known as a publisher, Toronto-based Porter scored the $15,000 non-fiction prize Tuesday night for her latest book, Kasztner's Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust.
Described by the jury as "a chilling but redemptive tale," the book explores the controversial title character: a Hungarian Jew who made a so-called "deal with the devil" in convincing Nazi officials to accept payment in exchange for sending Jews to neutral Switzerland instead of to concentration camps.
Other non-fiction finalists, including Katherine Ashenburg and Douglas Hunter, will each receive $2,000.
The Journey Prize, which recognizes a short story or novel-in-progress by an emerging writer, went to Victoria writer Craig Boyko for OZY. Boyko receives the $10,000 prize while literary journal PRISM international receives $2,000 for publishing the work.
The Writers' Trust also presented a series of awards honouring a number of authors for their respective bodies of work.
Winnipeg playwright and author Martha Brooks won the $15,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for children's literature, while Prince Edward Island's poet laureate David Helwig was honoured with the $20,000 Matt Cohen Award, a lifetime achievement prize.
Two mid-career writers — one female and one male — were celebrated for their writing achievements so far: Diane Schoemperlen of Kingston, Ont., won the $15,000 Marian Engel Award, while St. John's writer Michael Crummey won the $15,000 Timothy Findley Award.
The trust also presented past chair Graeme Gibson with its distinguished contribution award for his "ongoing commitment of time, energy and resources" in shaping the non-profit organization, which provides support for writers across Canada.