Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Prize Watch: Weston non-fiction prize shortlist

Modris Eksteins, the University of Toronto historian of modern Europe, is the main historical nominee in the 2012 Weston Prize for non-fiction, for Solar Dance, a book about Van Gogh, art forgery, and the nature of art and culture in the early twentieth century.

The Weston, which recently joined the Charles Taylor, the BC Prize, and the Governor-General's Non-Fiction Award among the big-dollar non-fiction book awards ($60,000 for the winner), follows other prominent prizes in leaning toward celebrity judges. This year's jury includes diplomat James Bartleman, broadcaster Seamus O'Regan, and journalist Barbara Amiel Black as well as writers Charlotte Gill and Marni Jackson. They call this "a unique twist designed to inspire discussion of the shortlisted books." 

The press release identifies the full shortlist as:
  • Kamal Al-Solaylee for Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Modris Eksteins for Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age (Knopf Canada)
  • Taras Grescoe for Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • JJ Lee for The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit (McClelland & Stewart)
  • Candace Savage for Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape (Greystone Books/David Suzuki Foundation) 
Buzz I have heard is that Charlotte Gill's Eating Dirt and Carmen Aguirre's Something Fierce, recent prize winners (the Weston, and the CBC Canada Reads, respectively) by relatively unknown authors, have had impressive and long sustained sales, suggesting prizes do work.
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