Friday, February 18, 2011

Shaughnessey Cohen Prize to Anna Porter

 The Ghosts of Europe, Anna Porter's account of post-communist Eastern Europe, is the 2011 winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize in political writing from the Writers' Trust of Canada.  The Cohen Prize honours a work that covers:
a political subject of interest to Canadian readers and enhances our understanding of the issue. The winning work combines compelling new insights with depth of research and is of significant literary merit. Strong consideration is given to books that, in the opinion of the jury, have the potential to shape or influence Canadian political life.
Since Cohen was an MP who died suddenly on the floors of the House of Commons, one rather expects that "strong consideration" will indeed be given to a book about Canadian politics. But the remit to the jury members (who are anonymous, at least on the WT website) is a broad one, and in recently years Cohen juries seem to have interpreted it loosely. Other nominees this year include Tim Cook's First World War history The Madman and the Butcher, as well as Shelagh Grant' Arctic Imperative, Lawrence Martin's Harperland, and Doug Saunders's Arrival City.

Haven't read through the contenders, won't judge, and these are all admired books. But the idea of the Cohen being a prize for a book on Canadian politics, rather than the generic non-fiction prize it seems to be evolving into, seems a good one.
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