Books

Jessica J. Lee wins $10K RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award

Jessica J. Lee, author of the memoir Turning, was chosen by the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize winner, Kate Harris.
Jessica J. Lee is the author of Turning. (Hamish Hamilton, Paul Capewell)

Jessica J. Lee, author of the memoir Turninghas been awarded the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award, a prize that comes with $10,000 and mentorship from RBC Taylor Prize winner Kate Harris.

The RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award was created to recognize a published Canadian author who is early in their career and working on a new manuscript.

The recipient of this award is chosen by the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize, which is given annually to the best work of nonfiction by a Canadian author.

Harris received this year's Taylor Prize for her travel memoir Lands of Lost Borders in March of 2019.

Harris said she selected Lee because she is an "uber-talented Canadian author, whose first book, Turning, I deeply admired for its gorgeous mix of memoir and nature/travel writing... She's definitely a nonfiction voice I want to hear more from." 

Originally from London, Ont. and now based in Berlin, Lee published her debut memoir in 2017. Turning chronicles the year Lee swam in 52 local lakes — one for each week of the year.

Lee said she is "completely surprised and honoured" to be chosen for the prize.

"Since receiving the news, I've felt like a pool of jelly — it means a lot to me that I'll be joining such a brilliant community of previous winners," said Lee, adding that she's at work on her next book.

Lee is also an environmental historian and founded the literary magazine The Willowherb Review, which focuses on nature writing.

Previous recipients of the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award include Alicia Elliott, who was selected by Tanya Talaga in 2018, and Iain Reid, who was selected by Plum Johnson in 2015. 

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