Mark Bourrie wins $30K RBC Taylor Prize for biography of Hudson Bay Company founder Pierre-Esprit Radisson
2020 will be the final year for the prize
Bush Runner by historian and journalist Mark Bourrie has won the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize.
The $30,000 prize annually recognizes the best in Canadian literary nonfiction.
Bush Runner is the story of explorer and Hudson Bay Company founder Pierre-Esprit Radisson.
Radisson's life is remarkable: he was kidnapped by Mohawk warriors, witnessed London's great plague and great fire, survived a shipwreck, was marooned with pirates and proved to be a shrewd adventurer, trader and businessperson.
- Historian Mark Bourrie tells the story of the explorer's adventure-filled life in his book, Bush Runner
Bourrie has written several books about history.
His other books include The Killing Game, a book about ISIS, Fighting Words, about Canadian war reporting, and The Fog of War, about media censorship during the Second World War.
"There's an emotional roller coaster that you feel when writing a book. Writing the book is the easy part. Getting the book out to the world is what's hard. But I didn't expect to win this," Bourrie told CBC Books after his win. "All the books here are all so good. If I was to have placed a side bet, it would have been on someone else. Every one of these books belong on a shelf in your house. This win is absolutely validation for all the work I put into writing it."
Bourrie will also choose the winner of the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award, a $10,000 prize given to a published Canadian author who is early in their career and working on a new manuscript.
The RBC Taylor Prize winner mentors the Emerging Writer Award recipient.
The jury, comprised of 2019 Booker Prize co-winner Margaret Atwood, British professor Coral Ann Howells and American translator Peter Theroux, selected the winner from 155 submitted titles.
It was announced in November that 2020 will be the last year for the prize, which has been given out since 2000.
Founder Noreen Taylor explained in a press release that "it became clear last year that we had achieved every goal."
Taylor created the prize in memory of her husband, Charles Taylor, a journalist and author of the books Six Journeys and Radical Tories. He died in 1997.
The inaugural Taylor Prize winner was Wayne Johnston for Baltimore's Mansion. Other former award winners include Carol Shields for Jane Austen, Charles Foran for Mordecai: The Life & Times, Andrew Westoll for The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, Thomas King for The Inconvenient Indian, Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin's Daughter and Tanya Talaga for Seven Fallen Feathers.