Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
Winner: $60,000; Finalists: $5,000
Finalists announced September 28, 2016
Writers of nonfiction books begin with a single puzzle piece – a discovery, a belief, an idea – and build their picture out of words and story. The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction celebrates the best in Canadian nonfiction writing, from history to biography, essay to memoir, and commentary to criticism. The 2015 prize winner was announced at a gala presentation in Toronto on October 6.
Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
Compelling figures are essential in a great biography. They need not be famous or historically significant but they do require an author to bring to life their passions, ideas, feats, and failures. Rosemary Sullivan achieves all of it with an insightful yet empathetic portrait of Svetlana Alliluyeva. Stalin’s Daughter expansively intertwines history, political intrigue, espionage, and domestic drama, yet Sullivan hones the episodes to one struggle: Alliluyeva’s attempt to escape her father’s shadow. When the “Soviet Princess” died, she was treated in the media more like a post-Cold War curiosity. Sullivan’s book delivers a fully wrought literary heroine.
About the Book
Svetlana Alliluyeva lived her life in the shadow of one of history’s most monstrous dictators—her father, Josef Stalin. Communist Party privilege protected her from the mass starvation and purges that haunted the Soviet Union, but she did not escape tragedy—the loss of her mother, two brothers, aunts and uncles, and a lover deliberately exiled to Siberia by her father. As she gradually learned about the extent of her father’s brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet and in 1967 shocked the world by defecting to the United States—leaving her two children behind. Her life in America was fractured; she moved frequently, married disastrously, shunned other Russian exiles, and ultimately died in poverty. Rosemary Sullivan adroitly pieces together an intimate biography of a woman doomed to be a political prisoner of her father’s name.
About the Author
Rosemary Sullivan has written poetry, short fiction, biography, and literary criticism. Her recent books include Villa Air-Bel and Labyrinth of Desire. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and a recipient of the Lorne Pierce Medal, awarded by the Royal Society of Canada for her contribution to literature and culture. An Officer of the Order of Canada, Sullivan lives in Toronto.
Tell It to the World: International Justice and the Secret Campaign to Hide Mass Murder in Kosovo
Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent
(Random House Canada)
Empire of Deception: From Chicago to Nova Scotia – The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated a Nation
Cease: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Desire
Each finalist receives $5,000; the prize winner receives a total of $60,000. The nominated works are available for download on iBooks for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac at www.itunes.com/WestonPrize.
Finalists were selected by a three-member jury composed of author and journalist Stevie Cameron, novelist and nonfiction writer Will Ferguson, and writer and broadcaster JJ Lee, who was a finalist for this prize in 2012. In total, 97 titles were submitted by 51 publishers for the 2015 prize.
The Writers' Trust is proud to administer a nonfiction writing contest for Canadian high school students. Nico Branham, our 2015 winner from Vancouver, recently received $2,500 plus $1,000 for her school for her piece, "Outside the Window, a Billion Stars Are Moving Past Me at the Speed of Light." Read it at writerstrust.com/students.
Free teaching resources are available at writerstrust.com/education. These resources help high school educators explore contemporary Canadian nonfiction with students by introducing them to books nominated for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.
About the Honourable Hilary M. Weston, CM, OOnt
Hon. Hilary M. Weston served as the 26th lieutenant-governor of Ontario from 1997 to 2002. As the Queen’s representative in Ontario, Mrs. Weston was responsible for the Crown’s constitutional and representational roles in the province. Since leaving public office, Mrs. Weston has continued to pursue her diverse interests. She led Renaissance ROM, the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian cultural history, transforming the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She is a trustee of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and serves on the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Mrs. Weston is also a corporate director of Wittington Investments and Selfridges Group Ltd. She has also served as deputy chair of the board of Holt Renfrew, promoting Canadian designers in the retailing business.
Mrs. Weston founded the Ireland Fund of Canada and remains a patron of this non-denominational organization promoting peace in Ireland. Her interests in homes and gardens resulted in the publication of In a Canadian Garden (1989) and At Home in Canada (1995). She served as first chancellor of the Order of Ontario, was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2003, and is the recipient of six honorary degrees.
About the Prize
The prize is awarded for literary excellence in the category of nonfiction, which includes, among other forms, personal or journalistic essays, history, biography, memoirs, commentary, and criticism, both social and political. Finalist works will, in the opinion of the jury, demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique. This award succeeds the Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize, which was established in 1997.