CBC Literary Prizes

M.G. Vassanji, Jenny Heijun Wills and Tim Cook to judge 2021 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The prize is accepting submissions until Feb. 28, 2021. You could win $6,000 from the Canada Council, a writing residency at the Banff Centre and have your work published on CBC Books.

The prize is accepting submissions until Feb. 28, 2021

M.G. Vassanji (left), Jenny Heijun Wills (centre) and Tim Cook are judging 2021 CBC Nonfiction Prize. (Derek Shapton, Submitted by Jenny Heijun Wills, Marie Louise Deruaz)

M.G. Vassanji, Tim Cook and Jenny Heijun Wills will judge the 2021 CBC Nonfiction Prize.

The CBC Nonfiction Prize recognizes original, unpublished nonfiction up to 2,000 words. Memoir, biography, humour writing, essay, personal essay, travel writing or a feature article are all accepted.

The deadline to submit is Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

The winner will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have their work published on CBC Books.

Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

M.G. Vassanji has published short stories, novels, memoir and biography. He has won the Scotiabank Giller Prize twice: in 1994 for The Book of Secrets and in 2003 for The In-Between World of Vikram Lall. He has also won the Governor General's Literary Award, the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Commonwealth First Book Prize. He was born in Nairobi, Kenya, raised in Tanzania and now lives in Toronto. His next book is the short story collection What You Are, which will be published in May 2021.

Tim Cook is a historian at the Canadian War Museum. He has written several books about military history, including No Place to RunShock TroopsFight to the Finish, At the Sharp End and Vimy: The Battle and the Legend and The Fight for History. Shock Troops won the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize for literary nonfiction. In 2013, he received the Pierre Berton Award for popularizing Canadian history. He has won the C.P. Stacey Prize, which recognizes the most distinguished book in Canadian military history, twice and the Ottawa Book Award three times. He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and the Order of Canada.

Jenny Heijun Wills is an associate professor at the University of Winnipeg, where she serves as the Chancellor's Research Chair and teaches in the English Department. She was born in Korea and adopted as an infant by a white family in southern Ontario. In her late 20s, Wills traveled to Seoul to look for her first family. She chronicles this reunion in her memoir Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. won the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Eileen McTavish Sykes First Book Prize from the Manitoba Book Awards. CBC Books named Wills a 2020 writer to watch in 2020. She is currently working on a novel.

Submissions are read by a panel of established writers and editors from across the country. The jury will select the shortlist and winner. 

Need a little motivation to get you going? Subscribe to the CBC Nonfiction Prize newsletter: the form to add your email address is at the bottom of this post. We will send you writing tips, tricks and prompts every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday while the CBC Nonfiction Prize is open.

Last year's winner was B.C. writer Jonathan Poh for his essay Value Village. You can read the five shortlisted pieces here.

The CBC Literary Prizes have been recognizing Canadian writers since 1979.

Past winners include Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, Michael Winter and Frances Itani.​

The 2021 CBC Poetry Prize will open in April. The 2022 CBC Short Story Prize will open in September.

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