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Tessa McWatt is the author of six novels and two books for young people. Her fiction has been nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award, a City of Toronto Book Award, and the OCM Bocas Prize. Research for this memoir was supported by the Eccles British Library Writer’s Award and earlier this year was shortlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize. She is the co-editor of Luminous Ink and is also in the process of adapting John Berger’s novel To the Wedding for the screen. McWatt is a professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia and lives in London, United Kingdom.


Tessa McWatt on Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging, Weston Prize finalist

Award History

2020 Finalist

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
for Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging

Jury Citation

“Tessa McWatt masterfully explores the intersections of race, belonging, and body in Shame on Me. Through broad research and powerful storytelling, she travels through space and time to unravel false colonial narratives and reconstruct the stories of her grandmothers. She begins by transporting her global heritage of slavery, colonization, and economic migration to an all-white classroom in Toronto, where a mindless teacher demands: ‘What are you?’ That cruel question is at the heart of McWatt’s intelligent and provocative debunking of the economic and social roots of racism. Beautifully written and courageously told, McWatt’s memoir stitches together the fractured pasts of her ancestors with her own sense of displacement to create both a fuller understanding of herself and a path forward.”

— 2020 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury (Helen Knott, Sandra Martin, and Ronald Wright)