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article imageCharles Taylor Prize short list of books announced Special

By KJ Mullins     Jan 9, 2013 in Entertainment
Toronto - This morning at Toronto's King Edward Hotel the short list for this year's Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction was announced to a standing-room-only crowd.
Noreen Taylor founded the Charles Taylor Prize 12 years ago in memory of her husband. Taylor was a foreign correspondent for The Globe and Mall as well as the author of four books. She said today that the Prize was born from an idea that her late husband Charles had. "Charles felt that if attention was given to Canadian non-fiction it would bear fruit," Noreen said smiling at the memory.
The Charles Taylor Foundation works with their sponsors, such as RBC Wealth Management, to award the winner of the prize with $25,000 and the other finalists receive $2,000. The prize money though is just a portion of what makes this prize so coveted in Canada. The presenting sponsor RBC Wealth Management has come up with book tours for the finalists that result in higher sales and more focus of the world of Canadian non-fiction.
But the true winners Taylor said are Canadian readers who are the ones that the prize benefits most.
Noreen Taylor
Noreen Taylor
Vijay Parmar, Vice President, RBC Wealth Management said that all of the books submitted for the jurors were united by a quality of perfection. He is pleased to see a thriving and vibrant non-fiction field in Canada.
This year, jurors included broadcast executive Susanne Boyce, award-winning author and newspaper columnist Richard Gwyn, and author/educator Joseph Kertes, who all read through 129 Canadian non-fiction books submitted by 43 publishers around the globe to narrow the list to 15 and then today's five titles.
In this year's selections, said Gwyn, were several books that were written by Canadians but had little to do with Canada, "The books are about the big world out there. This is one of the fruits that the Charles Taylor Prize has beared" where Canadian writers are writing about global issues and being respected at home and abroad for their work.
The Finalists for the 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction are:
Vijay Parmar  Vice President  RBC Wealth Management
Vijay Parmar, Vice President, RBC Wealth Management
Carol Bishop-Gwyn (Toronto) for The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca, published by Cormorant Books
Jury Citation: "Carol Bishop-Gwyn does for Celia Franca what history requires and demands. She gives us the complex story of an artist both driven and tyrannical, both sensitive and unreasonable, but someone able, with little help and in what was little more than a cultural backwater, to found a ballet company which was to become one of the best in the world, the National Ballet of Canada. The company still bears her stamp. Bishop-Gwyn's rich biography tells us exactly why."
* as a footnote Richard Gwyn excused himself from voting on this novel as it is his wife's work
Tim Cook (Ottawa) for Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King, and Canada's World Wars, published by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Canada
Jury Citation: "We measure Robert Borden and William Lyon Mackenzie King, our two world war prime ministers, by the extent to which each rose to the occasion, led our country to bloody war, and led us out again, each of them effective warriors striving for peace. Tim Cook's Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King, and Canada's World Wars portrays these two men as they really were, men moderately able to lead Canada through a dark time and, despite their numerous shortcomings (particularly Mackenzie King's), able to survive politically. Cook's great achievement is his capturing of Canada as it grapples with its identity."
Sandra Djwa (Vancouver) for Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page, published by McGill-Queen's University Press
Jury Citation: "In taking on the life of P.K. Page, Sandra Djwa needed to be as driven and sensitive as her subject. Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page is not only the story of one of Canada's great artists and poets, but also a history of the flowering of Canadian literature and culture in the twentieth century. Using the tools of the scholar - letters, notes, diaries, manuscripts, texts and interviews - Djwa fashions a compelling and necessary biography. She does the important job of leaving us with the big, rich life story, which gives an extra dimension to the art of a great writer."
Ross King (Woodstock, England) for Leonardo and The Last Supper, published by Bond Street Books, an imprint of Doubleday Canada
jurors broadcast executive Susanne Boyce  award-winning author and newspaper columnist Richard Gwyn ...
jurors broadcast executive Susanne Boyce, award-winning author and newspaper columnist Richard Gwyn, and author/educator Joseph Kertes
Jury Citation: "Leonardo and The Last Supper is the latest in Ross King's studies of medieval Italian masters from Machiavelli to Brunelleschi to, now, the grand master of all, Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper is the most famous painting in the world excepting only for another by the same painter, the Mona Lisa, and it is the painting that raised da Vinci from the status of a highly promising but exasperatingly unproductive painter to the rank of the greatest artistic genius of all time. Leonardo and The Last Supper is a masterly exercise in the art of popular biography.
Andrew Preston (Cambridge, England) for Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy, published by Knopf Canada
Jury Citation: "Fluently written, comprehensively researched, and scrupulously balanced, Andrew Preston's Sword of the Spirit, Shield of the Faith describes how the foreign policy of the United States has been and is influenced, alternately decisively and marginally, by the fact that so many Americans regard themselves as a people chosen to do God's work to others and because American leaders all the way from Lincoln to George W. Bush have used religious convictions to justify political acts. Showing that the centrality of religion in American life is by no means unique to fundamentalists and neo-conservatives, this important work has such chapter titles as "High Priests of the Cold War" and "A Judeo-Christian Foreign Policy," which convey Preston's originality and, indeed, his bravery."
The winner of the 2013 Prize will be announced on Monday, March 4th.
Look for reviews of each of the short listed books in the coming weeks.
More about Charles Taylor Prize, short list, Noreen Taylor, Books
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