Ross King's previous book, The Judgement of Paris on the struggle between classicists and impressionists in 19th century France, won the Governor General's Award for nonfiction in 2006. Just six years later, he has won again for Leonardo and the Last Supper. In between, he wrote Defiant Spirits on the modernism of the Group of Seven. He knocks off a novel from time to time too.
That's an impressive record for a historian, but King doesn't seem to get any attention from the Canadian university community in fine arts or in history. He lives and works in Britain, and his website does not suggest many invitations to speak or teach in Canada.
Linda Spalding won the fiction prize for a historical novel. Ten of the fourteen winners this year were women.
Update, same day: Jill McKeen of Regina comments:
You note that Ross King doesn't get much attention from Canadian academe. As a history graduate who escaped half-way through a PhD program, it's all about academic rivalry....historians look down their noses at the English Department and (and vice versa). As well Ross went to "lesser" universities (I was shocked when I went to McMaster at how little regard there was for York, and the U of Regina did not even register), so he is doubly cursed.