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John Vaillant is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. His debut novel, The Jaguar’s Children, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed won the Pearson Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize. Vaillant has received a Governor General’s Literary Award, British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Nonfiction, and the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize. He has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and The Walrus, among other publications. Vaillant lives in Vancouver.  

Award History

2023 Finalist

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
for Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast

Jury Citation

John Vaillant’s Fire Weather reveals to readers a character as ruthless, creative, and destructive as any in modern literature: fire itself. Through dynamic prose, deep research, and a profound sense of the stakes on a planet beset by climate change, Vaillant traces how Canada’s geological and economic history have converged to transform fire from a useful tool into an existential threat to our way of life. In the process, he crafts a narrative pulsing with beauty and annihilation, hubris and desire, and the unsettling revelation that what humanity has long considered its most important tool is no longer under our control.

2015 Finalist

Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
for The Jaguar’s Children

Jury Citation

The Jaguar’s Children is a haunting and exquisitely written book of the moment: a powerful novel about the repercussions of global inequity, human indecency, and an individual’s choices in the face of despair. John Vaillant gives us the story of Hector – a Zapotec smuggling himself out of Mexico in search of a better life. Balancing the poignant and luminous with the horrific is no easy feat butThe Jaguar’s Childrendoes just that. A praiseworthy addition to Vaillant’s already established standing as one of our very best writers. — 2015 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury (Aislinn HUnter, Shani Mootoo, and Richard Wagamese)

2005 Winner

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
for The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed

Jury Citation

“The wonder of The Golden Spruce is how author John Vaillant, in beautiful language, weaves a convergence of geography and greed, mythology and madness into a spectacular thriller. The story of this legendary tree on the Queen Charlotte Islands resonates marvellously with Canadian and, indeed, universal significance.” – 2005 Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize Jury (Ernest Hillen, Myrna Kostash, and Paula Todd)

Works recognized by WT

The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed