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Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Awards
Read Alberta would like to congratulate the finalists for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction: Ken Haigh, Ian Williams, Darrel J. McLeod, Jordan Abel, and Tomson Hightway.
We would also like to congratulate University of Alberta Press. Their book, On Foot to Canterbury: A Son’s Pilgrimage (Ken Haigh) is one the finalists. The jury (consisting of Kevin Chong, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Adam Shoalts) said that On Foot to Canterbury “is a beautifully written and eloquent story that skillfully weaves historical anecdotes into a journey through rural England, leaving the reader with practical, sage advice on how to deal with loss and depression, but most of all, on how to live. Haigh’s eye to detail is a delight to read, as are his frequent musings on landscape and history. This subtle, moving story stays with you long after the book is finished.”
The Alberta connection to the finalist list is strong. Ian Williams’ book, Disorientation: Being Black in the World (Random House Canada) is described, by the jury, as “a formally inventive and searing meditation on race and Blackness.” Williams served as the 2014-15 Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary, and had two books published by Calgary-based publisher Freehand Books: Personals, which was shortlisted for both the Griffin Prize and a ReLit Award; and Not Anyone’s Anything, an innovative book of short stories.
The Hilary Weston shortlist also includes Alberta author Darrel J. McLeod’s memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity (Douglas & McIntyre), the sequel to Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. Earlier in 2021, Read Alberta posted an interview with McLeod about this book, where he describes it: Peyakow “loops back in time to the real beginning of the disruption and destruction of the world my extended family and ancestors had enjoyed since time immemorial. This is the true beginning of the story I sought to tell the world. It’s an important piece of the puzzle, since this history has not been taught in schools. Peyakow continues to recount the impacts of the brutal and rapid colonization of the Nehiyaw/Cree people in northern Alberta and on my family.”
The other books on the shortlist are Nishga, by Jordan Abel, and Permanent Astonishment: A Memoir by Tomson Highway.
The Hilary Weston Award is given annually for excellence in the category of literary nonfiction, which includes essays, history, biography, memoir, commentary, and criticism. The winning book demonstrates a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique. The prize has been sponsored by The Hon. Hilary M. Weston since 2011. This year, the jury composed of Canadian writers Kevin Chong, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Adam Shoalts considered 107 titles submitted by 64 publishers before deciding on a shortlist of five. The winner of the 2021 award will be announced on November 3, 2021.