Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award
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Joan Thomas has a profound understanding of the human condition. She creates characters and relationships and turns these through many phases, illuminating for all of us, the small and large tragedies and joys of life. In her work, she is unafraid, and she is truthful. When she blends fiction with historical fact, she does so seamlessly -- whether it is to call up the language of Darwinian times, or to describe a young Canadian's Christmas in England during WWII. Thomas’s prose, limpid and sensual, has a lightning-bright intensity when exploring the relationships between mothers and daughters, or secret lovers, the beauty of prairie landscapes, sexual awakenings, religious zeal, those small vanities that undo us, those veins of bravery that sustain us. We, as readers, anticipate the richness of her future endeavors.
The Opening Sky (2014)
Reading by Lightning (2008)
About the Author
Joan Thomas won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Canada and the Caribbean) and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award for her first novel, Reading by Lightning, published by Goose Lane Editions in 2008. Two years later she was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her second novel, Curiosity, which was named a Quill and Quire Book of the Year. She is a finalist for this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award for her third novel, The Opening Sky. Thomas has worked as a teacher, group-home worker, editor, and as the Writing and Publishing consultant at the Manitoba Arts Council. She was a books columnist and longtime contributing reviewer for The Globe and Mail, and in 1996 won a National Magazine Award (Silver) for Creative Non-Fiction. In 2012 Thomas was writer-in-residence at the Berton House Writers’ Retreat in Dawson City, Yukon. Thomas lives in Winnipeg, on the banks of the Red River, with her husband. They have one daughter.
About the Prize
The Writers' Trust Engel Findley Award is given to a mid-career writer in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian literature. Writers are judged on their body of work – no less than three works of literary merit which are predominantly fiction – rather than a single book. All Canadian writers are considered and no age or gender restrictions apply. The winner is selected by a three-member, independent judging panel. (Established in 2008, the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award was created by merging two previously existing prizes: the Marian Engel Award for a female writer in mid-career, given from 1986-2007, and the Timothy Findley Award for a male writer in mid-career, awarded between 2002 – 2007.)