Aida Edemariam wins $17K Ondaatje Prize for The Wife's Tale
The annual £10,000 ($17,622 Cdn) award is given to a book that best evokes the spirit of a place.
In The Wife's Tale, Edemariam records her grandmother Yetemegnu's long and storied life in Ethiopia. Yetemegnu was born in Gondar, married to an ambitious man before her 10th birthday and grew into a spiritual and resilient woman. Over the stretch of her 97 years, Yetemegnu raised a family through violent fascist regimes, civil war and revolution.
- How Aida Edemariam took her grandmother's stories and wrote a biography about her 97 years of life in Ethiopia
Edemariam wrote the book in both her own and her grandmother's voice, piecing together stories from recorded interviews with Yetemegnu, as well as the writer's travels in Ethiopia and research into the country's history.
The book was shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.
"The Wife's Tale is beautifully written, carefully researched and richly imagined, an exquisite blend of memoir, fiction, poetry and invocation," said prize judge Michèle Roberts in a press release.
"This is a book I shall constantly re-read as well as recommend to everyone I know who loves literature."