Manitoba's Miriam Toews wins Writers' Trust fiction prize

Winnipeg writer Miriam Toews has won the Rogers Writers' Trust prize for fiction for her fifth novel, The Flying Troutmans.

Winnipeg writer Miriam Toews has won the Rogers Writers' Trust prize for fiction for her fifth novel, The Flying Troutmans.

Toews, whose A Complicated Kindness won the Governor General's Award in 2005, was named winner of the $25,000 prize Monday in Toronto.

More than $155,000 in prizes were given during the ceremony, including wins for:

  • Best non-fiction: Taras Grescoe of Montreal for Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood.
  • Journey Prize for short stories: Saleema Nawaz of Montreal for My Three Girls, published in Prairie Fire.

Toews's The Flying Troutmans is the story of a road trip by a dysfunctional Manitoba family. The main character Hattie sets out with her teenaged nephew and niece after their mother, Hattie's sister, is confined to a psychiatric ward.

"Toews's book is a love song to young people trying to navigate the volcanic world of adult emotions," the Writers' Trust jury said.

It won out over Montreal writer Rawi Hage's Cockroach, which was nominated for a trio of Canada's top literary awards — the Giller, the Governor General's Award and the Writers' Trust — and now has lost out on two of them.

Also in the running were Rivka Galchen's Atmospheric Disturbances, Lee Henderson's The Man Game and Patrick Lane's Red Dog, Red Dog. Each of the finalists wins $3,500.

Grescoe's book, Bottomfeeder, traces the seafood on restaurant menus around the world and chronicles how fishing practices have resulted in an ecological disaster in the oceans.

"Bottomfeeder navigates the troubling waters that lie between our collective desire for cheap seafood and the damage that we have done to the oceans and their inhabitants in order to secure it," the jury said in its citation.

Grescoe, a Montreal-based magazine and book writer, is also author of The End of Elsewhere, a critique of mass tourism.

The Writers' Trust also gives monetary awards to three writers in recognition of their contribution to Canadian literature.

This year's winners were:

  • The $25,000 Notable Authors Award for a writer in mid-career to Michael Winter, based in Toronto and St. John's, author of The Big Why and The Architects Are Here.
  • The $20,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for children's literature to Michael Kusugak of Rankin Inlet, author of A Promise is a Promise and The Littlest Sled Dog.
  • The $20,000 Matt Cohen Award in celebration of a writing life to Sylvia Fraser of Toronto, a novelist and travel writer whose books include The Rope in the Water: A Pilgrimage to India.