Thursday, January 10, 2019

Fiction and nonfiction writers at the Taylor Prize

More than a decade ago (yeah, this blog goes back a ways now) I was complaining that the juries of the Charles Taylor Prize in Nonfiction were regularly dominated by novelists and fiction critics. I asked how that might be related to the fact that the prize almost always went to novelists who dabbled in nonfiction.

But about the time I was forming that critique, the Prize revamped its jury selections. With more nonfiction writers doing the judging, real nonfiction writers began winning the prize, even, eventually, some historians writing big serious history books.

Well, this year's jury is fifty/fifty on novelists and nonfiction writers, and yesterday's shortlist of five included two books by prominent fiction writers. But I think this is a pretty good list.

It certainly nods to the current consensus that creative nonfiction and memoir are pretty much the same thing. And historians will note there's not much to encourage them to dream of nonfiction prize glory anymore.  But there's pretty good writing here, interesting perspectives, and a good mix of large press and small press (i.e, titles and authors you never heard of before) too.

Winner March 4, along with a couple of other worthwhile Taylor Prize initiatives.
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