Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction - 2011 shortlist

The Charles Taylor Prize commemorates Charles Taylor's pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. The prize will be awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception.

Here are five finalists for this year's prize of $25,000.00.

Afflictions and Departures: essays (M)
by Madeline Sonik

"Afflictions & Departures is a collection of first-person experiential essays by writer and academic Madeline Sonik. Although Sonik explores some of the salient personal experiences of her young life, the essays in Afflictions & Departures are not traditional memoir. In addition to incidents and feelings recaptured from memory, Sonik seeks out connections between the microcosm of of the daily events of her childhood and the social, historical, and scientific trends of the time." - Publisher

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: a Canadian story of resilience and recovery (M)
by Andrew Westoll

"In the Canadian wilderness, the unstoppable, resourceful, endlessly compassionate Gloria Grow has created a rehabilitation center like none other. Thirteen chimpanzees, some from zoos but most from medical testing laboratories, now call Fauna Sanctuary home. After decades of cruelty and deprivation at the hands of humans, at Fauna these resilient primates are finally free to eat, sleep, play, and roam in peace—all while fighting their personal demons and struggling to form the complex society that defines chimpanzee nature. Primatologist and author Andrew Westoll lived and worked at Fauna for one remarkable summer, and The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary is his poignant testimony to the capacity of these animals to heal—and to learn to be chimps again. This is an absorbing, big-hearted story of communion with the species that is more closely related to us than any other." - Publisher

Eating Dirt: deep forests, big timber, and life with the tree-planting tribe (M)
by Charlotte Gill

"A tree planter's vivid story of a unique subculture and the magical life of the forest. Charlotte Gill spent twenty years working as a tree planter in the forests of Canada. During her million-tree career, she encountered hundreds of clearcuts, each one a collision site between human civilization and the natural world, a complicated landscape presenting geographic evidence of our appetites. Charged with sowing the new forest in these clearcuts, tree planters are a tribe caught between the stumps and the virgin timber, between environmentalists and loggers. Shortlisted for the Hiliary Weston Writer's Trust Prize for non-Fiction " - Publisher

Into the Silence: the Great War, Mallory, and the conquest of Everest (M)
by Wade Davis

"A magnificent work of history, biography and adventure. If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war. Of the twenty-six British climbers who, on three expedtions (1921-24), walked 400 miles off the map to find and assault the highest mountain on Earth, twenty had seen the worst of the fighting. Six had been severely wounded, two others nearly died of disease at the Front, one was hospitalized twice with shell shock. Three as army surgeons dealt for the duration with the agonies of the dying. Two lost brothers, killed in action. All had endured the slaughter, the coughing of the guns, the bones and barbed wire, the white faces of the dead. In a monumental work of history and adventure, ten years in the writing, Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept on climbing on that fateful day..." - Publisher

The Measure of a Man: the story of a father, a son, and a suit
by J. J. Lee

"Taking as its starting point a son's decision to alter his late father's last remaining suit for himself, this is a deeply moving and brilliantly crafted story of fathers and sons, of fitting in and standing out -- and discovering what it means to be your own man. For years, journalist and amateur tailor JJ Lee tried to ignore the navy suit that hung at the back of his closet -- his late father's last suit. When he decides to finally make the suit his own, little does he know he is about to embark on a journey into his own past. As JJ moves across the surface of the suit, he reveals the heartbreaking tale of his father, a charismatic but luckless restaurateur whose demons brought tumult upon his family. He also recounts the year he spent as an apprentice tailor at Modernize Tailors, the last of Vancouver's legendary Chinatown tailors, where he learns invaluable lessons about life from his octogenarian master tailor. Woven throughout these two personal strands are entertaining stories from the social history of the man's suit, the surprising battleground where the war between generations has long been fought." - Publisher

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