Books

Gary Barwin wins $15K Leacock Medal for Humour

Gary Barwin won the prestigious literary prize for his debut novel Yiddish for Pirates.
Gary Barwin is a composer, multidisciplinary artist and the author of 21 books. (Adela Talbot, Vintage Canada)

Gary Barwin has won the 2017 Stephen Leacock Medal for his debut novel, Yiddish for Pirates. The $15,000 prize, given annually since 1947, recognises the best Canadian book of humour.

Yiddish for Pirates is narrated by a 500-year-old polyglot parrot who tells the tale of a young Jewish man escaping persecution by taking to the high seas with Christopher Columbus. The book was also nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

Though it is his first novel, Barwin has published several acclaimed poetry collections, the most recent being No TV for Woodpeckers. He is a juror for the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize.

The other finalists for the prize were Amy Jones for the novel We're All in This Together and Drew Hayden Taylor for the sci-fi collection Take Us to Your Chief.

The announcement was made at a gala near Orillia, Ont. on June 10, 2017.

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