Tanya Talaga, Alicia Elliott shortlisted for $60K Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
The $60,000 prize is awarded annually to the best Canadian work of nonfiction.
For the first time in the prize's history, all five finalists are women. Three of the books are debuts.
Here are the finalists:
- A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott
- Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Paperny
- All Our Relations by Tanya Talaga
- The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari
- Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. by Jenny Heijun Wills
The shortlist was selected by the jury panel comprised of Ivan Coyote, Trevor Herriot and Manjushree Thapa. They chose the five books from 99 titles submitted by publishers.
The winner will be announced at the Writers' Trust Awards ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 5, 2019.
Other past winners include Rosemary Sullivan, Naomi Klein and Charles Foran.
Keep reading to learn more about each of the finalists.
Elliott explores the systemic oppression faced by Indigenous peoples across Canada through the lens of her own experiences as a Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of the Grand River. Elliott examines how colonial violence, including the loss of language, seeps into the present day lives of Indigenous people, often in the form of mental illness. Elliott, who lives in Brantford, Ont., won gold at the National Magazine Awards in 2017 for the essay this book is based on.
The jury described Elliott's collection of essays "a much-needed pail of cold water upon Canada's self-satisfied response to the call for Reconciliation."
- Alicia Elliott on why the cultural appropriation debate isn't about free speech — it's about context
Anna Mehler Paperny is a journalist who has struggled with depression her entire life. After a suicide attempt in her 20s, she decided to look into her disease: how it's caused, treated and talked about. Part memoir, part investigation, Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is an examination of an illness that is far too common and far too little understood.
The jurors praised the book for "casting much-needed light on one of the most persistent and mystifying diseases of our times."
Talaga investigates the alarming rise in youth suicides in Indigenous communities. All Our Relations — part of the 2018 Massey Lectures and based on Talaga's Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series — is a call for action and justice for Indigenous communities and youth.
Jurors describe Talaga's book as "a call to action and a testament to the strength and tenacity of Indigenous people around the world."
After finishing her two mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces and in the midst of grieving her father's death, Tsabari leaves Tel Aviv to travel through India, Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Moving quickly through homes and cities, Tsabari eventually starts making trips back to Israel and digs deep into her Jewish-Yemeni background and Mizrahi identity in ways she'd never done before.
The jurors praised The Art of Leaving for being "pitch-perfect in bearing the full tension and complexity of what it is to be a young Mizrahi Jew in self-imposed exile."
Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea, but was adopted by a Canadian family and raised in a small town. When she was in her early 20s, she decided to travel back to Korea to meet her extended birth family and other young people who were adopted from Korea and raised abroad.
Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. shares Wills's journey and also explores the impact of being raised by a family of a different ethnicity and culture.
The jury describes the book as "finely observed, meticulous and candid."