Literary Prizes

Meet the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize Readers

These 12 readers determined the longlist for the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize.
12 authors and editors from across Canada compiled the longlist for the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize. (Submitted, see individual photos for credit)

Every year, CBC Books enlists the help of established writers and editors from across Canada to read the thousands of entries submitted to our prizes.

Our readers compile the longlist, which is given to the jury. The jury then selects the shortlist and the eventual winner from the longlisted selections. Below, you can mee the 12 readers who compiled the longlist for the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize.

The 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize shortlist will be announced on Sept. 24 and the winner on Oct. 1, 2020.

The winner of the CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, 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 will have their work published on CBC Books.

If you are interested in entering the CBC Literary Prizes, the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize is currently open and accepting submissions until Oct. 31, 2020.

The 2021 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January. The 2021 CBC Poetry Prize will open in April.

Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali

Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali is a Toronto-based writer from Somalia. (Philip Sutherland)

Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali was born in Somalia's capital and currently resides in Toronto. His memoir Angry Queer Somali Boy, touches on details of his life in Somalia, the Netherlands and Toronto. He's currently working on a novel about the disappearance of a Somali crossdresser in Toronto.

Sarah de Leeuw

Sarah de Leeuw was nominated for a Governor General Literary Prize in Non-fiction in 2017. (Briar Craig)

Sarah de Leeuw is the author of six literary books and co-editor of five academic texts. She was nominated in 2017 for the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction. She won a Western Magazine Gold Award, the Dorothy Livesay B.C. Book Prize for poetry and the 2008 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize. De Leeuw has a PhD in historical-cultural geography and is a professor and Canada Research Chair with the Northern medical program in Prince George. She grew up on Haida Gwaii and now divides her time between Prince George and Kelowna, B.C.

Susan Doherty

Susan Doherty is a writer based in Montreal. (Kathy Slamen Photography)

Susan Doherty has worked at Maclean's Magazine, the International Herald Tribune and ran her own advertising production company for 20 years. She published her debut novel, A Secret Music, in 2015. Research for her novel led her to the Douglas Hospital where she volunteered with people suffering from extreme psychosis. Her book The Ghost Garden is the culmination of her work in the excavation of mental illness. 

Nadia L. Hohn

Nadia L. Hohn was named by CBC Books as one of the top Black Canadian writers to watch in 2018. She is based in Toronto. (Submitted by Nadia L. Hohn)

Born of Jamaican immigrant parents, Nadia L. Hohn is a classroom teacher, presenter and author. She is the author of several popular picture books, including Malaika's Winter Carnival and the biographical Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter. She was named by CBC as one of the top Black Canadian Writers to Watch in 2018. Nadia holds degrees from the University of Waterloo and OISE at University of Toronto. She is currently working on middle-grade and young adult novels, a play and more picture books.

Catherine Lafferty

Catherine Lafferty is a northern Indigenous writer. She previously served as a Councillor for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. (Amos Scott)

Catherine Lafferty is a northern Indigenous author. Her first novel Northern Wildflower debuted in 2018. Her upcoming novel entitled Land-Water-Sky is set to be released in the fall of 2020. Catherine previously served as a Councillor for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and is now in her first year of studies at the University of Victoria in the Indigenous Legal Orders/Common Law Juris Doctor program. She is a regular columnist for Northern News Services, a newspaper distributed across the Northwest Territories.

Patrick Ledwell

Patrick Ledwell is a writer, performer and host based in P.E.I. (Pam Bernard Photography)

Patrick Ledwell is a writer and performer who has made many appearances on CBC Radio's The Debaters. He hosts events across Canada, from the East Coast Music Awards to a performance in Inuvik, above the Arctic Circle. His book collections, I Am an Islander and An Islander Strikes Back, have found their way onto cottage bookshelves across the country. During the summer season, he performs with musician Mark Haines in the popular show The Island Summer Review. Patrick lives near Charlottetown, with his wife and son.

Lezlie Lowe

A woman in a midnight blue top smiles at the camera.
Lezlie Lowe is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster based in Halifax. (Riley Smith)

Lezlie Lowe is a Halifax-based freelance journalist and broadcaster. She is the author of No Place To Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs. Lowe has penned and produced long-form pieces on urban rats, roadkill cemeteries, sex work, and, prominently, public toilets. She has been a finalist and multiple winner at the Radio Television Digital News Association Awards, the Atlantic Journalism Awards and the Canadian Association of Journalists Awards. She has taught journalism at the University of King's College since 2003. 

Clem Martini

Clem Martini is a Calgary-based award-winning playwright, novelist and screenwriter. (Jayda Novak)

Clem Martini is a playwright, novelist and screenwriter with over 30 plays and 12 books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit. His books include the W.O. Mitchell Award-winning Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness, The Unravelling and The Comedian. His texts on playwriting, The Blunt Playwright, The Greek Playwright and The Ancient Comedians, are employed widely at universities and colleges. He currently teaches in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.

Darrel J. McLeod

Cree author Darrel J. McLeod won a Governor General Literary Award for Non-fiction in 2018 for Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. (Ilya Herb)

Darrel J. McLeod is Cree from Treaty 8 territory in Alberta. He is the author of Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age, winner of the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction and finalist for the RBC Charles Taylor Prize, B.C. Book Prize and Victoria Butler Book Prize. The sequel to Mamaskatch, entitled Peyakow will be released in fall 2020. Darrel speaks French and Spanish and is studying Cree. He holds degrees in French literature and education from the University of British Columbia.

Paul Seesequasis

A man with longish hair.
Paul Seesequasis is active in the Indigenous arts, as a writer, an artist and a policy maker. (Red Works)

Paul Seesequasis curates the Indigenous Archival Photo Project, an online and physical exhibition of archival Indigenous photographs, that explores history, identity and the process of visual reclamation. His photo book, Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun, was published by Knopf Canada in October 2019. His commentary has appeared in The Globe and Mail and in The Walrus, Brick and Granta magazines, among others. He is active in the Indigenous arts, both as an artist and a policy maker.

Lorimer Shenher

Lorimer Shenher is a writer and storyteller based in Vancouver. (Jennifer Fell)

Lorimer Shenher is a writer and a public speaker, speaking on a wide range of topics, from the toxicity of police culture and its impact on our society, to the fight for human rights of marginalized people. He has worked as a police detective, newspaper reporter and photographer, film extra, TV technical consultant, pharmaceutical sales representative, basketball coach, advertising account executive, shoe seller, greenskeeper and Calgary Stampede bingo caller. Shenher is the author of the book, This One Looks Like a Boy, and he's currently writing his first novel.

Jenny Heijun Wills

Jenny Heijun Wills won the 2019 Hilary Weston Writer's Trust Prize for Nonfiction for Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related: A Memoir. (Submitted by Jenny Heijun Wills)

Jenny Heijun Wills has lived, studied and worked in Toronto, Boston, Montreal and Seoul. She is the author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related: A Memoir. It won the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Winnipeg.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now