Finalists named for $40K B.C. non-fiction prize

A tree-planting memoir by Vancouver writer Charlotte Gill and a first-person account of living with an autistic son by Montreal writer Joel Yanofsky are in the running for the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.
Charlotte Gill wrote a memoir of her 17 years as a tree planter. (Greystone Books)

A tree-planting memoir by Vancouver writer Charlotte Gill and a first-person account of living with a son with autism by Montreal writer Joel Yanofsky are in the running for the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

Four finalists for the $40,000 award, one of Canada’s most important prizes for non-fiction writing, were announced Thursday in Vancouver. The short list was drawn from 134 books.

Gill’s Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe  was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers Trust Non-fiction Prize earlier this year.

Gill tells the boom and bust history of logging and its environmental impact through the lens of her own experience as a tree-planter, a job she did for 17 years.

Yanofsky's memoir Bad Animals: A Father's Accidental Education in Autism, won the Mavis Gallant non-fiction award in Quebec. His book describes his quest for treatment for his son Jonah and how he learned to cope with his boy’s uncertain future.

The other finalists:

  • Human Happiness by Toronto writer Brian Fawcett:  an examination of two strangers the author knew all his life – his parents and the paths they found towards happiness.
  • The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery by Andrew Westoll, a primatologist who writes about  work in a Quebec sanctuary for chimpanzees rescued from an American biomedical research lab.

Jury members include Paul Whitney, a retired city librarian, Patricia Graham, vice president of digital for Pacific Newspaper Group and author Shari Graydon. The award winner will be announced in February.