NMA winners among finalists for BC Book Prizes

This week the West Coast Book Society announced the finalists for the annual BC Book Prizes, which celebrate achievement by British Columbia writers in 7 categories. Winners are announced on April 29.

3 of the 5 finalists in the Non-Fiction category are National Magazine Award winners, as well as one of the finalists in Poetry.

Mark Leiren-Young’s The Killer Whale Who Changed the World

Killer whales had always been seen as bloodthirsty sea monsters. That all changed when a young killer whale was captured off the west coast of North America and displayed to the public in 1964. Moby Doll—as the whale became known—was an instant celebrity, drawing twenty thousand visitors on the one and only day he was exhibited. He died within a few months, but his famous gentleness sparked a worldwide crusade that transformed how people understood and appreciated orcas. Because of Moby Doll, we stopped fearing “killers” and grew to love and respect “orcas.”

Mark Leiren-Young is a journalist, filmmaker, and author. The magazine article that grew into this book, “Moby Doll” (The Walrus), was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.


Deborah Campbell’s A Disappearance in Damascus

“Did I find her or did she find me?” writes Deborah Campbell in her new book, A Disappearance in Damascus (Knopf Canada), winner of the Writers’ Trust Award. Her is in reference to Ahlam, Campbell’s ‘fixer’— journalist jargon for a foreign correspondent’s interpreter or guide. An Iraqi mother and humanitarian, Ahlam is of invaluable assistance to Campbell throughout her Middle-East reportage, and when she gets taken by secret agents, the journalist, who has reported from countries including Egypt, Qatar and Russia among others, can’t help but take the blame for her disappearance. Campbell spends months in search of her friend in the perilous city.

Deborah Campbell is the winner of two National Magazine Gold Awards for her articles in The Walrus—The Most Hated Name in News” and “Iran’s Quiet Revolution”— published in 2009 and 2006 respectively. She has written for many publications, including Harper’s, The Guardian and Foreign Policy, and has spent over a decade reporting abroad.


The Marriott Cell, by Mohamed Fahmy, with Carol Shaben

Just over one year ago, Egyptian-born Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy was awaiting bail from behind bars of an Egyptian maximum security prison. He, along with two other Al-Jazeera journalists, were sentenced to 7-10 years, accused of reporting false news, after police raided their makeshift studio in the Marriott Hotel in Cairo. According to Human Rights Watch, the trial of Fahmy was a “miscarriage of justice based on zero evidence.” Despite this, the three spent over a year in prison before making bail following a presidential pardon.

Now, finally free and back in Canada, Fahmy is an adjunct professor at UBC, and he’s just published The Marriott Cell (Random House), a book on his harrowing experience in Egypt. The book is a collaboration of efforts by Fahmy and Carol Shaben, a former NMA winner.

Carol Shaben is the winner of two National Magazine Awards for her story, “Fly at Your Own Risk” (The Walrus), about the deficiencies of Canada’s smaller aviation aircrafts and companies. She has written one other book, Into the Abyss, and lives in Vancouver.


In the poetry category, the finalists include:

poemw, by Anne Fleming

In poemw, the third finger of the left hand hits ‘w’ instead of ‘s’ and makes up a new kind of poem, the sort-of poem, the approxi-lyric, the poem that doesn’t want to claim poemness. Poemw are about daily things—graffitti, hair, sea gulls, second-hand clothes—and rarer things—dead crows, baked mice, ski accidents, Judith Butler. They’re jokes-and-not-jokes, cheeky, goofy. Tender.

Anne Fleming has been nominated for 3 National Magazine Awards, winning the award for Fiction in 2002 for her work in The New Quarterly. She has an MFA from UBC and teaches at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna. Her first book, Pool-Hopping and Other Stories, was shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the Danuta Gleed Award.


Check out all the finalists for this year’s BC Book Prizes. The winners are announced on April 29.

Holiday Books from the National Magazine Awards

Here at the National Magazine Awards Foundation, nothing brings us greater joy than diving into our next non-fiction read. Non-fiction gnaws at us because prose based on real people and real events tends to capture, move, and inspire us.

So to bid farewell to the year that was, we’ve rounded up some of our top non-fiction reads by National Magazine Award-winning authors — aka fool-proof gift ideas — that will undoubtedly please (and hopefully inspire) anyone you’re looking to spoil this holiday season.

Also, check out our top Fiction reads, too.

“Invisible North” by Alexandra Shimo

Alexandra Shimo’s new book, Invisible North, is a cry for help for our Indigenous peoples: their lives, their land and their dignity.

Shimo is not Indigenous. The lived experience and documentation of our Indigenous peoples, by Indigenous peoples, is of utmost importance to the amendment of Canada’s history and will play a crucial part in shaping our country’s future. Shimo is, however, an investigative reporter, who, while on assignment for CBC’s The Current, discovered the devastating reality of Canada’s Indigenous reserves. When Shimo travelled to the Kashechewan reserve in northern Ontario — known better to some as “ground zero” for the First Nation experience — she witnessed firsthand the deplorable living conditions, major lack of services and the relentless government inaction faced by the Cree living on that land. In Invisible North, she recounts her deep-seated guilt, struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and ultimate inability to cope with the living conditions on the reserve.

Shimo is a former editor of Maclean’s. She is the recipient of three honorable mentions at the National Magazine Awards, including for her Toronto Life piece, “Kandahar Diaries,” five stories from soldiers after their return from Afghanistan. This is her third book.

“A Disappearance in Damascus” by Deborah Campbell

“Did I find her or did she find me?” writes Deborah Campbell in her new book, A Disappearance in Damascus (Knopf Canada), winner of the Writers’ Trust Award. Her is in reference to Ahlam, Campbell’s ‘fixer’— journalist jargon for a foreign correspondent’s interpreter or guide. An Iraqi mother and humanitarian, Ahlam is of invaluable assistance to Campbell throughout her Middle-East reportage, and when she gets taken by secret agents, the journalist, who has reported from countries including Egypt, Qatar and Russia among others, can’t help but take the blame for her disappearance. Campbell spends months in search of her friend in the perilous city.

The story takes place almost a decade ago, rendering the title somewhat misleading. When Ahlam disappeared, Campbell was reporting on the Iraq War, at a time when Iraqis were fleeing to Syria for refuge. Despite this, Campbell’s account provides a contemporary piece of the puzzle that is the current state of war in Syria.

Campbell is the winner of two National Magazine Gold Awards for her articles in The Walrus—The Most Hated Name in News” and “Iran’s Quiet Revolution”— published in 2009 and 2006 respectively. She has written for many publications, including Harper’s, The Guardian and Foreign Policy, and has spent over a decade reporting abroad.

“The Marriott Cell” by Mohamed Fahmy (w/ Carol Shaben)

Just over one year ago, Egyptian-born Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy was awaiting bail from behind bars of an Egyptian maximum security prison. He, along with two other Al-Jazeera journalists, were sentenced to 7-10 years, accused of reporting false news, after police raided their makeshift studio in the Marriott Hotel in Cairo. According to Human Rights Watch, the trial of Fahmy was a “miscarriage of justice based on zero evidence.” Despite this, the three spent over a year in prison before making bail following a presidential pardon.

Now, finally free and back in Canada, Fahmy is an adjunct professor at UBC, and he’s just published The Marriott Cell (Random House), a book on his harrowing experience in Egypt. The book is a collaboration of efforts by Fahmy and Carol Shaben, a former NMA winner.

Shaben is the winner of two National Magazine Awards for her story, “Fly at Your Own Risk” (The Walrus), about the deficiencies of Canada’s smaller aviation aircrafts and companies. She has written one other book, Into the Abyss, and lives in Vancouver.

Read our interview with Carol Shaben.

“Sixty” by Ian Brown

The problem with turning 60? It’s so goddamn melodramatic, says Ian Brown, who wrote about the experience in a bygone Globe and Mail column.

A year later, he’s written a book on the subject of his life since, entitled, Sixty: The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning? A Diary of My Sixty-First Year (Penguin Random House). The title itself sounds characteristically self-deprecating — perhaps not surprising for any seasoned journalist in 2016. Fearing he’s “misplaced” the last 20 years of his life, Brown begins writing a diary in an attempt to embrace the next 20. He isn’t necessarily unhappy with how his life has played out — he is a successful journalist by anyone’s standards — but he grapples with how inconspicuously the last six decades slipped by. Brown provides both an intimate and humorous look at the aging process, in hopes it really is just “the End of the Beginning.”

Ian Brown is a journalist and author of five books. Currently, he hosts Human Edge and The View from Here on TVOntario. He is also a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. Brown has collected many National Magazine Awards over the years, most recently a Gold for “Man Vs. Behemoth,” his short feature published in Explore Magazine.

“Bad Singer” by Tim Falconer

If you’re into books like Daniel Levitan’s This Is Your Brain on Music or David Byrne’s How Music Works, Tim Falconer’s Bad Singer (House of Anansi) should logically be next on your reading list. Sure, it’s another look at music through a scientific lens, however, the latter takes a more personal approach, as Falconer himself suffers from amusia — the technical term for tone deafness, encompassing both pitch processing and musical memory. Weaving through the science behind singing, the limitations of the body and the trait of human persistence, Falconer is able to prevail, capturing the interest of any reader, simply by exploring a topic dear to so many.

Falconer’s book is based on his 2012 Maisonneuve piece “Face the Music,” that won him a Silver at the National Magazine Awards.

Falconer is the author of five books. Currently, he is a professor at Ryerson’s School of Journalism in Toronto, a mentor in the Creative Non-Fiction program at the University of King’s College in Halifax and an editor at the Literary Journalism program at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

“The Promise of Canada” by Charlotte Gray

Just in time for Canada’s 150th birthday, historian Charlotte Gray has released her new book, The Promise of Canada: 150 Years – People and Ideas That Have Shaped our Country (Simon & Schuster). Gray deconstructs nine influential Canadians and their respective roles since Confederation.

Gray includes the obvious, from George-Étienne Cartier to Tommy Douglas to Emily Carr, but strays (somewhat) with a chapter on Elijah Harper, former Indigenous NDP MLA, and noted critic of the Meech Lake Accord. If history textbooks of our past didn’t suffice in the area of Indigenous peoples pasts, perhaps Gray’s account will follow the lead of Harper’s, that is, to bring the stories of our Indigenous people into mainstream conversation.

Gray has received eight honourable mentions at the NMAs, including a Chatelaine profile of global activist Naomi Klein and a Walrus political piece on leader of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair.


Happy holiday reading from the National Magazine Awards.

And remember, submissions for this year’s 40th anniversary awards are being accepted until January 20. Enter at magazine-awards.com

National Magazine Award honourees headline fall book awards season

Here at the National Magazine Awards we’re humbled to see so many familiar names in line for some of Canada’s most notable literary awards.

Earlier this month, the Governor General’s Literary Awards shortlist was announced, with four former National Magazine Award winners and nominees in the running for one of the country’s most prestigious prizes. They join fellow Canadian authors and poets on the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Writers’ Trust Award shortlists — both of which also boast great work by recent NMA honourees.

Mona Awad has come a long way from her two-week stint on the then-famed Beverly Hills Diet in 1988, at age nine. Her raw depiction of the commonplace pursuit of slenderness, in 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (Penguin Canada), was shortlisted for the Giller Prize last month. The compilation of short stories follows the tribulations of a young Mississauga girl, struggling with her appearance and self-worth, into womanhood. Back in 2005, Awad’s Maisonneuve piece, “The Shrinking Woman” — which shared a common theme with 13 Ways — was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. The essay ushered the reader through Awad’s journey of growing up with a mother who, despite loving and supportive, couldn’t shield her daughter from an addiction to dieting and weight loss.

“Later on I’m going to be really…beautiful. I’m going to grow into that nose and develop an eating disorder. I’ll be hungry and angry all my life but I’ll also have a hell of a time.”
Mona Awad, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

Awad has written for numerous publications including McSweeney’s, The Walrus, and Joyland, among others.

Gary Barwin is a Canadian poet, composer and professor at York University. In 2015, his poem Winter, published on Hazlitt was a finalist in the poetry category at this year’s NMAs. His most recent novel, Yiddish for Pirates (Random House Canada), has been shortlisted for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. From the point-of-view of a 500-year-old parrot, the story takes a humorous yet philosophical tone in telling the tale of Moishe, a young Jewish vagabond eager to escape to the sea. S. Bear Bergman, in the Globe and Mail’s Book Review, sang its praises, emphasizing Barwin’s unique and often hilarious use of language(s).

A boychik with big ideas, his kop—his head—bigger than his body. He would travel beyond the scrawny map of himself, and beyond the shtetl. He’d travel the ocean.There were Jews—he’d heard stories—that were something. Not rag-and-bones shmatte-men like his father, Chaim, always following the dreck of their nag around the same small world. Doctors. Court astronomers. Spanish lords. Tax farmers. Learned men of the world. The mapmakers of Majorca. They were Jews.”
Gary Barwin, Yiddish for Pirates

Barwin has written over a dozen books, including writing for children and young adults as well as poetry compilations.

Kerry-Lee Powell got nods from the three big literary awards this year for her debut collection of short stories, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush (Harper Avenue/Harper Collins). The east coast poet was longlisted for the Giller Prize and shortlisted for both the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction and GG’s Fiction awards. Back in 2011, Powell was a finalist at the NMAs for two poems, “The Lifeboat” and “The Emperor.” The poems — scrawled down one night in a harrowing stupor — were in response to her father’s post-WWII PTSD and ultimate suicide, and her own struggles with mental illness.

“One of the after-effects of working in a busy bar is that you never really leave. It could be four o’clock on a Sunday morning. The pigeons are ruffling their oily feathers on the windowsill and the bedroom pales to a washed indigo as you launch into the slow drift towards oblivion. But it’s no use. The insides of your eyelids burn with visions of Saturday night. It’s a scene from the Inferno. Red shapes beckon and bang their glasses on the bar. They reel into shadows and surge forward again, a many-headed monster throwing punches in the air. The only thing is to wait for them to disappear. Except they never do.”
— Kerry Lee Powell, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush

In addition to her debut collection of shorts, Powell has also written two poetry collections, Inheritance and The Wreckage.

Michael Helm’s apocalyptic fourth book, After James (McClelland & Stewart), is on the shortlist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award. The collection of novellas, with three intertwining settings, characters and plots, has been called “genre-defying.” Perhaps a not so surprising feat for Helm, who has served as an editor and contributor for Brick, the beloved Toronto-based literary journal, for over a decade. In 2014, Helm earned a NMA honourable mention for his tribute to esteemed Montreal writer Mavis Gallant. Helm’s short feature — published in Brick (93) — was deeply thoughtful. The reader, regardless of affiliation with Gallant, soon becomes mourner, naturally reflecting on lost loves — literary or otherwise.

And then, a last idea, one she couldn’t suppress. It was that she was still inside the cave. She had fallen out of time, even as she descended through the woods as present in the world as she always had been. In thought, memory, body, she was nearly exactly herself. The feeling began to fade, to seem fanciful, at lower altitude, as her blood became better oxygenated, but she understood that it would never entirely leave her. It was somehow familiar, the idea that she was two places at once, or one place in two overlapping times. She must have read it in a junk novel, seen it in movies, things that everyone consumed without really remembering and that she found it harder and harder even to pretend to believe.
— Michael Helm, After James

Helm’s past bibliography includes: Cities of Refuge (2010), In the Place of Last Things (2004) and The Projectionist (1997).

Steven Heighton has been on our radar at the NMA’s since the late ‘80s when he was first nominated for his poem “Approaches to Lhasa” in The New Quarterly. Now a five-time NMA winner, Heighton holds four gold awards and one silver for both his poetry and fiction, published in the likes of Arc Poetry MagazineThe Fiddlehead, Prism International and The Walrus. His newest collection, The Waking Comes Late (House of Anansi Press), has been shortlisted for the GG Poetry Awards. This much anticipated collection, by critics and fans alike, touches on the themes of contemporary life and death, and what a seemingly troublesome future might hold for us all.

Steven Heighton has written numerous short stories, essays, poetry and novels over the course of his career. He has won or been nominated for over a dozen literary awards.

Rachel Rose was nominated for her first NMA in 2015 for “Three Poems,” published in Fiddlehead. Her fourth collection of poetry, Marry & Burn (Harbour), has been shortlisted for the GG Poetry Award. The poems, all revolving around themes of love and loss (of people and dogs), evoke a correspondingly sad and familiar fond feeling in the reader. In Rose’s newest collection, she explores similar themes with new subject matters, including the devastation of losing a beehive in our current climate, to Canadian racism and the mistreatment of our First Nations.

Rose has won awards for her poetry, fiction and nonfiction works. Her chapbook, Thirteen Ways of Looking at CanLit, was published last year by Toronto-based publisher BookThug.


The GG Literary Award presents $25,000 each to both an English and French finalist. Check the GG’s website on October 25 when the winner will be announced.

The Writers’ Trust Awards, comprised of different categories, with awards funded by various sponsors, will be announced at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto on November 2.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize winner will be awarded $100,000, while finalists walk away with $10,000. You can watch the live stream of the event at CBC Books on November 7.

Read and download hundreds of great short fiction stories and poetry in the National Magazine Awards archive, at magazine-awards.com/archive.

Special thanks to Krista Robinson for contributing to this article. 

Off the Page, with Dan Rubinstein

DanRubinstein
Dan Rubinstein (photo by Lisa Gregoire)

This week on Off the Page, our interview series with National Magazine Award winners, we chat with author and NMA-winning journalist Dan Rubinstein, whose 2015 book Born to Walk emerged from a National Magazine Award-nominated story in The Walrus.

NMAF: Congratulations on the recent publication of your book Born to Walk: The Transformative Power of a Pedestrian Act (ECW Press). You’re a self-described obsessive walker, meditating on the many benefits walking offers. How did your obsession with walking begin?

Born to WalkDan Rubinstein: I’ve always been interested in walking, both for fun and as a way to get from A to B. I like how the act allows me to intimately explore places or routes we typically don’t experience on foot. You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet, and you gain a deeper sense of how you fit into the natural and human ecosystem in which you live.

But this interest became an obsession in 2012. My “dream job,” as a magazine editor, had become a nightmare, and the long lunch-hour runs I took to escape the stress led to a blown knee. So I started going for walks at lunch, which offered a similar physical and psychological release.

And when I was back at my desk, I kept stumbling over news stories and research studies online that spoke to the many curative properties of walking, from physical and mental health to social cohesion and economic sustainability. I was hooked!

NMAF: Your article “The Walking Cure” — published in The Walrus and winner of two National Magazine Honourable Mentions in 2013 in the categories Society and Health & Medicine — seems to be the starting seed for Born to Walk. Can you talk a bit about the expansion of the article and the development of the book?

Dan Rubinstein: One of the first conversations I had about the myriad benefits of walking was with Stanley Vollant, the medical doctor at the heart of the “The Walking Cure.” He’s an Innu from eastern Quebec — the province’s first aboriginal surgeon — and had started a multi-year walking project, a series of group treks between First Nations communities in which dozens of participants experience the power of this healthy activity and re-establish connections to the land and to one another.

Stanley’s walks are hundreds of kilometres long, often in the winter, and people realize that the only way to reach the end of such a daunting journey is to approach it one step at a time — and they realize if they can do this, they can attempt to overcome any challenges they face. Stanley had the vision that inspired him to begin this project while doing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.

He didn’t know why he had to start walking with aboriginal youth and elders in Canada, but as he told me when we first spoke, “When you begin a journey, you don’t know why. The trail will show you the way.”

Writing this article was a natural first step for me, and expanded into the opening chapter of my book, it establishes the main themes and sets the tone. It also introduces Stanley, a recurring voice of wisdom in the book.

Read "The Walking Cure" (The Walrus)
Read “The Walking Cure” (The Walrus)

NMAF: Walking clearly influences the content of your writing, but does it influence how you write? Does the physical endurance built by walking long distances transfer to the long-term focus and dedication one needs to complete a book? Moreover, has walking influenced the form or pace of your writing?

Dan Rubinstein: I find it easier to walk for hours and hours than to sit and write for hours and hours. Walking is invigorating and inspiring — writing, for me, is hard work. But I did keep reminding myself, while working on the book, to take a “one step at a time” approach.

And the book, like many great walks, is a meandering journey, with a lot of side trails, that ultimately leads to a satisfying conclusion. At least I hope it does for readers.

NMAF: Do you have a familiar, favourite walk? Where is the strangest place walking has led you?

Dan Rubinstein: I don’t really have a specific favourite walk. I like walking from the place I am to the place I have to be. I like utilitarian transects that force me to go somewhere unexpected — say, an industrial park, or a subdivision that’s still under construction.

When I lived in Edmonton, I loved walking along the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park, or along the North Saskatchewan River in the city’s river valley. In Ottawa, where I now live, there are some beautiful trails along the Rideau River or in nearby Gatineau Park.

But really, I prefer the more unusual places where I’ve walked, such as the four-day hike I did from my parents’ house in Toronto to their cottage near Algonquin Provincial Park (which became an article for Cottage Life).

You don’t have to travel somewhere exotic to have a profound experience. You can literally walk out the front door and keep going.

NMAF: Since 2003, you’ve won a number of National Magazine Awards for work published in a variety of magazines (The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, Western Living, and Alberta Views). What is the role of magazine work — and magazine award nominations and wins — in the life of a freelancer?

Dan Rubinstein: Magazine assignments help freelancers explore ideas that they’re curious and passionate about. I’ve written about walking, for instance, in a dozen different publications.

This is the fun part of a freelancer’s life. Other gigs, like communications work, help beef up your income, but it’s the magazine assignments that provide the freedom that makes it all worthwhile. And if you write a story that wins an award, that makes it easier to pitch ideas to editors you haven’t worked with before.

Awards and nominations are a good calling card. They can help get you in the door. But at the end of the day, they’re not why most of us do this. It’s the stories that matter.


Dan Rubinstein is a National Magazine Award-winning journalist and author of Born to Walk: The Transformative Power of a Pedestrian Act (ECW Press). Read more about the project at borntowalk.org/about/. Follow Dan on Twitter @dan_rube

Very special thanks to Leah Edwards for researching and conducting this interview with Dan. 

The 2016 National Magazine Awards are now open for submissions until January 15. Awards will be presented in 39 categories at the 39th annual NMA gala on June 9. Digital publications and magazine content can also enter the Digital Publishing Awards (deadline Feb 16).

More “Off the Page” interviews with award-winning writers
Heather O’Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals
Emily Urquhart
, author of Beyond the Pale
Arno Kopecky, author of The Oilman and the Sea
Joshua Knelman, author of Hot Art

Illustrator Jillian Tamaki to launch SuperMutant Magic Academy, new book based on webcomic

Four-time National Magazine Award-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki’s latest book, SuperMutant Magic Academy, hits stores on April 28, and the celebrated artist will appear at the book’s official launch event in Toronto at The Central on Markham Street.

An ongoing webcomic since 2010, whimsical and poignant and delightfully honest, SuperMutant Magic Academy the book is a compendium of the webcomic updated with new material including a forty-page closing story, and is published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny. In one strip, lizard-headed Trixie frets about her nonexistent modeling career; in another, the immortal Everlasting Boy tries to escape this mortal coil to no avail. Throughout it all, closeted Marsha obsesses about her unrequited crush, the cat-eared Wendy. Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, Tamaki’s jokes are precise and devastating.

 

Perhaps best known today for the Governor General’s award-winning book, This One Summer, Jillian’s work has appeared in The Walrus, The New Yorker, More and other magazines. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

In our 2012 interview with Jillian, she talked about the process of building a portfolio as a magazine illustrator as part of a purposeful career path in illustration. “It’s incredibly advantageous to be able to do editorial work when you’re starting out, because it’s one facet of the industry that regularly takes chances on new talent.”

Check out Jillian’s new book and, if you’re in Toronto, join her at the launch of SuperMutant Magic Academy on April 28.

And check out Jillian’s award-winning magazine work at the National Magazine Awards archive.

Best Canadian Essays 2014 features NMA winners

BestCanadianEssays2015The 2014 edition of Best Canadian Essays has been released this month from Tightrope Books, edited by Christopher Doda and Natalie Zina Walschots.

Like previous years, the book of Best Canadian Essays 2014 features many National Magazine Award-winning writers from last year’s gala, as well as earlier years.

Sarah de Leeuw’s incredible story of abnormal childbirth, “Soft Shouldered,” featured in Prism International magazine, received an Honourable Mention in One of a Kind at last year’s gala.
Margo Pfeiff has won four NMA Honourable Mentions since 2001, and her essay “When the Vikings Were in Nunavut” was published in Up Here magazine, which won five Honourable Mentions at last year’s gala.

Dan Tysdal’s fiction piece, “Year Zero,” was published in the multiple NMA-winning magazine, Prairie Fire.

D.W. Wilson has received four awards within the fiction category, with three Honourable Mentions at the 2010 gala and a Silver Award for his piece The Elasticity of Bone in 2008.

Naomi K. Lewis’ essay, The Assault on Science, was published in NMA-winning magazine, Alberta Views. In 2011, she won an Honourable Mention in Health & Medicine for The Urge to Purge (Alberta Views).

Check out the complete list of essays by ordering the 2014 book from Tightrope Books.

Special thanks to Leah Jensen for compiling this post.

Off the Page, with Emily Urquhart

Off the Page is a regular interview series produced by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. In today’s conversation we chat with Emily Urquhart, folklorist, mother and winner at last year’s National Magazine Awards gala. Her incredible memoir on raising a daughter with albinism, “The Meaning of White,” published in The Walruswon Silver in the Personal Journalism category.

Two years after being published in The Walrus, her story is being revisited with her upcoming, debut book Beyond The Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes (HarperCollins), which will be in bookstores on March 31.

NMAF: Your background in folklore brought an interesting perspective to understanding human differences in your story “The Meaning of White.” How would you describe the creative process of writing this piece, in which you combined your study of folklore, experience as a mother and passion as a writer into a single story?

Emily: I knew right away that I wanted to document the early stages of my daughter’s life as we went through the process of discovering that she has a rare genetic condition. She was three months old when she was diagnosed with albinism—which is a lack of pigment in the hair, skin and eyes, and causes low vision. I started taking notes shortly after she was born. Back then, it was a way to process and understand what was happening.

I recorded the details of events and encounters, as well as my feelings and observations, on lined recipe cards that I stashed in my purse and around my house. I had a newborn, so sometimes I could only manage a few words, or a list, but as I found more quiet moments, the words became sentences and eventually paragraphs.

At that time I was in the final stages of my PhD in folklore at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL. I’d been studying folk tales, legends, beliefs, rumours, ballads and tall tales — the stories people tell to explain and illustrate their world. I realized that human differences were at the heart of many of these genres. I looked specifically at albinism and discovered worldwide beliefs and stories about this condition. Some were beautiful and I wanted to relate these tales to my own. Some were terrible and I wanted to turn away. Ultimately, exploring both good and evil helped me to come to terms with my own feelings about disability and difference, and what it means to be a parent. I wanted to write about how I came to this conclusion, both through my research and the story of our life.

After a year passed I pitched the idea to John Macfarlane at The Walrus. We worked on the idea together through a series of emails. He accepted the story and gave me far more space than I’d originally asked for. I’ll never forget receiving that message. I was so excited I couldn’t tell my husband, Andrew. I just handed him my phone so he could read it himself.

"The Meaning of White" by Emily Urquhart (The Walrus, April 2013). Illustration by Byron Eggenscwhiler.
“The Meaning of White” by Emily Urquhart (The Walrus, April 2013). Illustration by Byron Eggenschwhiler.

NMAF: Due to be released at the end of March is your debut non-fiction book, Beyond The Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes. Your name appears on countless lists for books to look forward to in 2015 (alongside your mother and celebrated novelist, Jane Urquhart). Did you always intend to write a book, or was this something that came after publishing your story in The Walrus? What was the process in turning a 5,600-word memoir into a full-length book?

Emily: By the time I turned in my first draft of “The Meaning of White” I’d cut it by one third and it was still over my allotted 5,000 words. That was in June 2012. The next month we travelled to St. Louis to attend a National Organization of Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) conference. I’d never seen another person with albinism besides my daughter. Suddenly I was surrounded by hundreds of white-haired people of all ages and everyone had a story to tell. I also learned a lot more about the discrimination and violence against people with albinism in East Africa, particularly Tanzania.

We arrived home and I sat down with my husband and told him two things: I’m going to Tanzania, and I’m going to write a book. Either statement didn’t surprise him. He said, “OK, I’m coming with you.”

The book follows the first three years of my daughter’s life, so the narrative expands on the article published in The Walrus and also picks up where it left off.

NMAF: Your memoir certainly received international attention. It was featured in Reader’s DigestLongform, Byliner and The Dish, and was even translated for an Italian magazine. How has recognition, such as your award from the NMAF, helped to propel your writing career and bring this story to a larger audience?

Emily: The National Magazine Award was a huge thrill. I’d finished writing the book based on the magazine memoir by the time I attended the award ceremony. Getting that kind of recognition at that point in the creative process was extremely validating. Winning a National Magazine award is up there with defending my PhD as one of my major career highlights, and I can only see it helping my career going forward.

When “The Meaning of White” went online I started receiving several emails a day. Some of the messages came from people with albinism, but a lot were from parents who related to the story and shared stories of their own with me. I’ve heard from people across North America, as well as Europe, Africa and Asia. Messages continue to trickle in now, almost two years after the memoir first appeared in The Walrus. My community expanded after publishing this story. I’ve met a lot of great people and received a lot of support. It’s been amazing. I see all of this as having a positive impact on my daughter’s future.

NMAF: You’ve written for many other award-winning Canadian magazines, such as Azure, Flare and The New Quarterly. Did you always have aspirations of being a magazine writer, perhaps during your days as an undergraduate student at the Ryerson School of Journalism? Or was this a career path that came as a result of your passion for writing? 

Emily: Magazines are definitely my first love. When I was a teenager I read an article in Sassy magazine where the journalist wrote about touring with a heavy metal band. I wasn’t into heavy metal, but the writer crafted such an engaging tale that it didn’t matter. The story was fascinating, but so was the journalist’s career choice. She was paid to go on tour with these guys and write about her experience. I wrote a story about this experience in 2009 for The New Quarterly.

My mom is a writer so I understood that you could be a novelist, but I hadn’t seen non-fiction as a career choice until reading that piece.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing and it was during my two years in the graduate program at the Ryerson School of Journalism that I saw a professional outlet for this passion. I also loved—still love—the act of reporting. It gives me a rush to approach a stranger and then ask them to tell me their story. I’m still nervous before every interview and I still feel a sense of elation afterwards.

NMAF: Undoubtedly, 2015 will be a milestone in your career with the release of your debut book. As a Canadian writer, what else is on your list of things you hope to accomplish? What might readers expect to see from you in the future? Do you want to write more novels, continue with magazine writing or pursue any other creative endeavours?

Emily: I wrote a memoir ten years ago, but shelved it because the material was too difficult for me to revisit at that time. It concerns a period in my mid-twenties following the death of my oldest brother. I went to great lengths to escape my life—a reporting internship amidst the chaos of post 9/11 New York City, a soggy winter in Vancouver, and nine months at an English language newspaper in Kyiv, Ukraine during the lead-up to the Orange Revolution. Some of the material is dark, but revisiting it from a safe distance I can see that there’s also a lot of potential for humour. Transforming the original memoir into a more cohesive narrative is my next project. At the same time I hope to keep writing for magazines. There are a few ideas that have been waiting in the wings while I finished my book and it’s time to set those stories free.

Emily Urquhart is a National Magazine Award-winning writer and author of the forthcoming non-fiction book Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes. Find out more at emilyurquhart.ca and on Twitter @emilyjurquhart.

This interview was produced by Leah Jensen for the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

To read the full text of “The Meaning of White” and hundreds of other National Magazine Award-winning stories, visit our online archive at magazine-awards.com/archive.

To read other Off the Page interviews–with writers including Sierra Skye Gemma, Heather O’Neill, Arno Kopecky and Byron Eggenscwhiler, who illustrated Emily’s Walrus story–visit blog.magazine-awards.com/off-the-page.

Read Governor General’s Literary Award winners in the NMA Archive

The 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards have been announced, and we are delighted to see several wonderful books by National Magazine Award winners among those chosen as Canada’s best of the year.

In Children’s Literature (Illustration) the winner is Jillian Tamaki for This One Summer (Groundwood Books), with text by her sister Mariko Tamaki. Jillian is a 4-time National Magazine Award-winning illustrator whose work has appeared in The Walrus, More and other great Canadian magazines. Read our Off the Page interview with Jillian about her career and illustration work. Check out Jillian’s award-winning illustrations in the NMA archive.

TheEndofAbsence_300In Non-Fiction, the winner is Michael Harris, for The End of Absence (Harper Collins), an exploration of the gains and losses of living in a hyper-connected world. Michael has twice been nominated for a National Magazine Award for his journalism in The Walrus, most recently for his profile of civil rights attorney Joseph Arvay. Read more in the NMA archive.

In Fiction, the winner is Thomas King, for The Back of the Turtle (Harper Collins). Thomas King won a National Magazine Award for Fiction in 1991 for his story “Borders” published in Saturday Night.

The ceremonies to honour this year’s Governor General’s literary award winners will be held on November 26 (English-language winners) and November 27 (French-language winners) in Ottawa. Read up on all the finalists and winners at ggbooks.ca.

See also:
NMA winners headline shortlists for GGs, Writers’ Trust and Giller Prize
Off the Page, with Arno Kopecky
Off the Page, with Jillian Tamaki

Read Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels in the NMA archive

Sean Michaels with his Giller Prize (Photo via CBC)
Sean Michaels with his Giller Prize (Photo via CBC)

Last night at the annual Giller Gala in Toronto, Montreal-based writer Sean Michaels won the $100,000 prize for his debut novel, Us Conductors. This remarkable story, noted the CBC, is

“… inspired by the life of Lev Sergeyevich Termen, the Russian inventor of the eerily beautiful theremin, taking him from the rambunctious New York clubs of the 1930s to the bleak gulags of the Soviet Union. The Giller jury praised Michaels’ writing, saying “he succeeds at one of the hardest things a writer can do: he makes music seem to sing from the pages of a novel.”

Like many a former Giller nominee and winner, Sean Michaels has built a successful career as a magazine writer. First nominated for a National Magazine Award for his music criticism in Maisonneuve, he won a gold medal National Magazine Award in 2010 for his essay “The Lizard, the Catacombs and the Clock” in the literary magazine Brick.

The intoxicating story of the underground labyrinths of Paris and the cataphiles who spelunk within them, Sean Michaels explored one of the more mysterious sides of the world’s most-visited city.

Parisians call it a gruyère. For hundreds of years, the catacombs under the city have been a conduit, sanctuary, and birthplace for its secrets. The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables’ Jean Valjean both haunted these tunnels, striking students descended in 1968, as did patriots during the Second World War. The Nazis visited too, building a bunker in the maze below the 6th arrondissement.

Read the complete article in the National Magazine Awards archive.

In 2012 Sean Michaels won a second National Magazine Award, alongside veteran Canadian photojournalist Roger LeMoyne, in the Words & Pictures category for “Ringmasters” – a portrait of Montreal’s Tohu circus published in The Walrus.

But the artists still remember what drew them under the lights: the risk, the thrill, the chance to brush up against another world. Experiments are once again taking place in the streets, in the metro — or even at Tohu, where management rents studios for as little as $2 an hour: a troupe called Recircle salvages equipment from the trash, while Cirque Alfonse reinvents the family circus with a show that turns Québécois stereotypes (sometimes literally) on their heads.

Read the complete article in the National Magazine Awards archive.

The National Magazine Awards Foundation congratulates Sean Michaels on the Scotiabank Giller Prize win.

Pick up your copy of Us Conductors and your favourite Canadian magazines today.

NMA winners headline shortlists for GGs, Writers’ Trust, Giller Prize

Yesterday’s revealing of the Giller Prize shortlist, today’s announcement of the Governor General’s Literary Awards finalists, both on the heels of last week’s release of the five finalists for the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, means that the big three Canadian literary prizes are counting down the days until we find out who wrote the best in Canadian literature for 2014.

Each year, it seems a handful of the nominees for these prestigious CanLit prizes have come from the magazine world; this year, almost all of the shortlisted authors have National Magazine Awards on their resumes.

Continue reading

National Magazine Awards Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for last-minute stocking stuffers and holiday gifts? A subscription to an award-winning Canadian magazine is a great place to start. Magazines Canada’s digital newsstand offers subscription deals on dozens of great magazines. A literary magazine would make any lover of fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction squeal with delight.

Perhaps someone on your gift list would love a subscription to Corporate Knights, the magazine of clean capitalism and the winner of this year’s prestigious Magazine of the Year award.

After magazines, books are every reader’s favourite gift, so here at the National Magazine Awards Foundation we’ve compiled a short list of great new books, all by National Magazine Award-winning writers.

Non-fiction

The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, by Graeme Smith
The winner of this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust prize for non-fiction, The Dogs are Eating Them Now is a comprehensive reportage of Canada’s role in the Afghanistan War, by 3-time National Magazine Award winner Graeme Smith.

The Once and Future World, by J.B. MacKinnon
Longlisted for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize for Non-fiction, this powerful meditation on how we can re-imagine and restore the wilderness around us, by 11-time National Magazine Award winner J.B. MacKinnon, is a must-read for anyone who lives, works or plays in Canada’s great outdoors. (Read our interview with J.B. MacKinnon.)

Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, by Alison Wearing
In a compelling memoir about growing up with a gay father in 1980s rural Ontario, National Magazine Award-winning travel writer Alison Wearing weaves a moving coming-of-age story with the challenging social and political climate of the struggle for gay rights in Canada.

Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, by Marcello Di Cintio
Winner of the 2013 Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, this gripping collection of travel narratives and reportage from divided lands–Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the U.S.-Mexico border, and more–is truly inspiring.

An Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
Once a National Magazine Award winner for Fiction in Saturday Night (1991), aboriginal writer Thomas King (Cherokee nation) tells a comprehensive and witty history of North America’s indigenous people’s encounters with Europeans.

Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark, by Mary Janigan
Also on the long list for the RBC Taylor Prize, this investigation into the regional rivalry between Western and Eastern Canada over issues of energy strategy and economic policy is scintillating. Mary Janigan is a former journalist with Maclean’s and a winner of a National Magazine Award in 1992.

Little Ship of Fools, by Charles Wilkins
A story that began on an innovative rowboat attempting a first-of-its-kind crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and continued in the pages of Explore magazine, where it won a 2011 National Magazine Award, Little Ship of Fools, by one of Canada’s premier adventure writers, Charles Wilkins, is the complete chronicle of Big Blue, the record-breaking rowboat, and the incredible crew that propelled her across the sea.

Fiction

Hellgoing, by Lynn Coady
The winner of this year’s Giller Prize as Canada’s best work of fiction, Hellgoing by Edmonton’s Lynn Coady needs almost no introduction. Lynn Coady is a 5-time National Magazine Award nominee, including this year for the story “Dogs in Clothes” (Canadian Notes & Queries), which is part of the collection Hellgoing.

The Sky is Falling, by Caroline Adderson
Caroline Adderson won the Gold 2012 National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Ellen-Celine, Celine-Ellen” (Canadian Notes & Queries). She is the author of three novels and several children’s books. Her work has received numerous prize nominations including the the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Ablutions, by Patrick deWitt
Patrick deWitt won the Silver National Magazine Award for fiction in 2012, for “The Looking Ahead Artist” (Brick). Originally from Vancouver, he is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

The World, by Bill Gaston
Victoria native Bill Gaston won the 2011 Gold National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Four Corners” (Event). His short-story collection Gargoyles was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and won the ReLit Award and the City of Victoria Butler Prize.

Easy Living Stories, by Jesus Hardwell
Jesus Hardwell won the 2010 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Sandcastles” (Event). The story was also short-listed for the prestigious Journey Prize and featured in the Journey Prize Anthology. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Ballistics, by D.W. Wilson
Born and raised in British Columbia, D.W. Wilson won 2008 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Elasticity of Bone” (Malahat Review). He is the author of Once You Break a Knuckle, a collection of short stories. He was shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai
Toronto’s Shyam Selvadurai won the 2006 Gold National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Demoness Kali” (Toronto Life). He is the acclaimed author of the novels Funny Boy, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award and was a national bestseller, and Cinnamon Gardens, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Award.

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese
The winner of this year’s First Nations Book Award, Indian Horse, by Ontario Ojibway author Richard Wagamese, tells the story of the journey that Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ontario Ojibway man, takes back through his life, as he is dying.

The O’Briens, by Peter Behrens
Montreal-born Peter Behrens won the 2006 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Smell of Smoke” (The Walrus). He is the author of the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning novel, The Law of Dreams, published around the world to wide acclaim, and a collection of short stories, Night Driving.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Deadline for entries: January 15.

Off the Page, with J.B. MacKinnon

Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with writer J.B. MacKinnon, winner of 11 National Magazine Awards and author of The Once and Future World (Random House Canada).

NMAF: In an essay titled “A 10 Percent World” (The Walrus, September 2010), you argued that humanity’s vision of an idyllic past is myopic; that in seeking to temper the impact that we have on our environment, our purpose “is not to demand some return to a pre-human Eden, but rather to expand our options”; that “our sense of what is possible sets limits on our dreams.” What did you mean by expanding our options beyond the limits?

J.B.: “A 10 Percent World” looks at the natural world of the historical past—a much richer and more abundant state of nature than we know today. We’ve largely forgotten this more plentiful world, and that limits our sense of the possible.

Yes, it’s depressing to find out that grizzly bears used to live on the Canadian Prairies and they don’t any more, or that Vancouver waters were home to a year-round population of humpback whales that were all slaughtered by 1908. But if we aren’t aware of these facts, then the absence of the bears and the whales seems normal. When we do become aware of them, we’re able to set a higher bar for our vision of what nature can be.  Continue reading

Several NMA laureates among Writers’ Trust Prize finalists

Invite-HeaderTomorrow the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize will be announced at a ceremony in Toronto. The five shortlisted novelists and short-story writers are among Canada’s most celebrated authors, and four of them are previously National Magazine Award honorees:

  • Lynn Coady, a Writers’ Trust finalist (and winner of the Giller Prize) for Hellgoing, is a five-time National Magazine Award finalist, most recently in 2012 for two stories, “Publish then Perish” (Eighteen Bridges) and “Dogs in Clothes” (Canadian Notes & Queries); the latter is one of the stories included in Hellgoing.
  • Lisa Moore, shortlisted for Caught, is a two-time National Magazine Award finalist, most recently for “Notes from Newfoundland” (2011, The Walrus).
  • Cary Fagan, shortlisted for A Bird’s Eye, was nominated for a National Magazine Award for fiction in 2007, for his story “Shit Box” (Taddle Creek).
  • Krista Bridge, shortlisted for The Eliot Girls, was nominated for a National Magazine Award for fiction in 2002, for “Crusade” (Toronto Life).

The fifth Writers’ Trust finalist is Colin McAdam, for A Beautiful Truth, which was also shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award earlier this year.

The winner will be revealed on Wednesday, November 20 at the annual Writers’ Trust Awards at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, which also includes the Journey Prize for Short Fiction.

The 3 finalists for this year’s Journey Prize include Eliza Robertson, whose entry “My Sister Sang” (Grain magazine) was a finalist for this past year’s National Magazine Award for fiction.

The other two finalists are Doretta Lau (“How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?”; Event magazine) and Naben Ruthnam (“Cinema Rex”; The Malahat Review).

More information about the Writers’ Trust Awards.

NMA laureates vie for Governor General’s Awards

Canadian book award season continues today with the presentation of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, better known as the GGs, in Ottawa, and several former National Magazine Award winners are among the finalists.

This most comprehensive of literary awards programs honours excellence in book-length fiction, poetry, non-fiction, drama, children’s text, children’s illustration and translation, with awards for both English- and French-language entries.

In the Fiction (English) category, the finalists include former National Magazine Award winner Shyam Selvadurai, for his novel The Hungry Ghosts. Mr. Selvadurai won NMA gold for fiction in 2006, for “The Demonness Kali” published in Toronto Life.

Former NMA finalist Kenneth Bonnert is also up for a GG in fiction, for The Lion Seeker. The rest of the GG shortlist includes Eleanor Catton, Joseph Boyden and Colin McAdam.

In the Children’s Illustration (French) category, two-time National Magazine Award winner Isabelle Arsenault is among the finalists, for Jane, le Renard et moi. Ms. Arsenault won a National Magazine Award earlier this year for her work in Quebec Science magazine.

In the Poetry (English) category, the shortlist includes two-time National Magazine Award finalist Don Domanski, for his collection Bite Down Little Whisper. Mr. Domanski’s most recent National Magazine Award nomination came in 2009, for the poem “Radiance and Counterpoint” published in Grain.

Read up on all the GG finalists here. For each category, a jury, comprised of fellow authors, translators and illustrators, makes the final selection. Each GG winner receives $25,000 and a specially-bound copy of their winning book. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000. The publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to help promote the book. The total annual value of the GGs is close to $450,000.

NMA winner Richard Wagamese wins First Nations book award

National Magazine Award-winning writer Richard Wagamese, a member of the Ojibway Wabasseemoong First Nation of northern Ontario and author of 13 books, has won the inaugural Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature, presented by the non-profit CODE and the Canada Council for the Arts.

He won for his latest novel, Indian Horse (Douglas & McIntyre), a story about the journey Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ontario Ojibway man, takes back through his life, as he is dying. The runners up were novels by Tara Lee Morin and James Bartleman.

Richard Wagamese was a National Magazine Award winner in 2010 for his story “Walking by the Crooked Water,” part of an Editorial Package called “Border Lines” published by Canadian Geographic magazine.

The Burt Award’s book purchase and distribution program will ensure that a minimum of 2,500 copies of each of the three winning titles will be delivered to First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth across Canada through community libraries, schools, Friendship Centres and summer literacy camps.

The Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning in Canada and around the world for over 50 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. The Award is the result of a close collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Association of Friendship Centres, Frontier College, GoodMinds, the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canada Council for the Arts. Read more.

More: Richard Wagamese in the National Magazine Awards archive.

NMA winner Carol Shaben to accept prize at Laurier University

National Magazine Award winner Carol Shaben, whose recent book Into the Abyss began as an award-winning story in The Walrus, will speak at two public events this Wednesday, November 13, at Wilfrid Laurier University, and will receive the 2013 Edna Staebler Prize which was announced earlier this year.

First, an interview with Ms. Shaben, conducted by Bruce Gillespie, assistant professor of Journalism, will take place on Laurier’s Brantford campus from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in RCW203. Then, the presentation of the Edna Staebler award will take place on Laurier’s Waterloo campus, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Senate and Board Chamber.

Carol Shaben is a freelance writer who lives in Vancouver with her husband and son. In 2005 she left a business career to focus on her long-time passion for writing, and in 2009 she was nominated for three National Magazine Awards, winning two: a Gold Medal for Investigative Reporting and a Silver Medal for Politics and Public Interest. Into the Abyss is her first book. She was also a finalist for Best New Magazine Writer of 2009.

Related posts: 
Off the Page, with Carol Shaben (interview)
New book by NMA winner looks at the safety of our skies

More: Carol Shaben in the National Magazine Awards archive

ScotiaBank Giller Prize features former NMA winners

Tomorrow night’s presentation of the 2013 ScotiaBank Giller Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in Canadian fiction, will feature the work of five celebrated Canadian authors, three of whom have previously been nominated for National Magazine Awards.

Five-time NMA finalist Lynn Coady made the Giller shortlist for her short-story collection Hellgoing. The native of Cape Breton is also the founding editor of the magazine Eighteen Bridges, launched in 2011 and already the recipient of 20 National Magazine Award nominations and 4 medals. She was a double nominee at this year’s National Magazine Awards for her fiction (“Dogs in Clothes“) in Canadian Notes & Queries and her Arts & Entertainment essay “Publish then Perish” (Eighteen Bridges).

A National Magazine Award winner earlier this year for his essay “Precious Cargo” (Avenue magazine), Craig Davidson is shortlisted for the Giller prize this year for his novel Cataract City. The Ontario native has been nominated for 5 NMAs during his career.

Newfoundland’s Lisa Moore, twice an NMA finalist for her journalism and fiction, made the Giller shortlist for her novel Caught. Her most recent NMA nomination was for her story “Notes from Newfoundland” (The Walrus, 2011), and she was nominated in 2001 for her fiction in The Malahat Review.

Rounding out the Giller shortlist are Dan Vyleta (The Crooked Maid) and Dennis Bock (Going Home Again).

The 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner will be announced at a gala ceremony on Tuesday, November 5, during a live broadcast on CBC Television at 9:00 p.m. EST. The announcement will be available simultaneously via email press release, newswire, Scotiabank Giller Prize web site and related social media channels. The winner recieves a $70,000 $50,000 cash prize.

New Charles Wilkins book arose from NMA-winning story

A few years ago, Ontario native and veteran freelance writer Charles Wilkins joined the crew of an experimental rowboat expedition: 16 paddlers in the strangest-looking craft rowed across the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Barbados, becoming the first mariners to cross the ocean without the aid of sail or motor.

Mr. Wilkins published a chronicle of the voyage in Explore magazine, “The Big Blue,” which went on to win a Gold National Magazine Award for travel writing in 2012–the fifth NMA in Wilkins’ distinguished career as a writer. We featured the astounding story in our Summer Reading Series that year.

Following that success at the National Magazine Awards, Mr. Wilkins has published Little Ship of Fools: Sixteen Rowers, One Improbable Boat, Seven Tumultuous Weeks on the Atlantic (Greystone Books), a “rich and fascinating story of courage, community, the importance of risk in our lives, and the resilience and depth of the human spirit.”

A fascinating and hilarious read from one of Canada’s most celebrated adventure writers. Check it out at Greystone Books.

National Magazine Award winner Alice Munro finally a Nobel laureate

She is a three-time National Magazine Award winner for fiction, including the first-ever such prize awarded back in 1977. She has won three Governor General’s Literary Awards, two Giller Prizes, and the Man Booker International Prize. Widely regarded as one of the greatest short-story writers the English language has ever known, at last Alice Munro has been named the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The native of Wingham, Ontario, published her first collection of short stories, Dance of the Happy Shades, in 1968, and promptly won the Governor General’s Literary Award. In 1977, she won her first of three National Magazine Awards, for her story “Accident” originally published in Toronto Life and later with her fifth collection, The Moons of Jupiter (1982).

Mrs. Cross and Mrs. Kidd,” published in the Tamarack Review, won her a second National Magazine Award for fiction in 1982.

And her story “Jakarta,” published in Saturday Night in 1998, won Ms. Munro a third National Magazine Award. Jakarta later appeared in the collection The Love of a Good Woman, which won the Giller Prize that year.

Now 82 and officially retired, Ms. Munro had been considered one of the favourites for the prestigious award, though only twelve women before her, in the Nobel Prize’s 113-year history, had won.

Using an epithet often ascribed to her, the Swedish Academy in announcing its decision referred to Ms. Munro as the “master of the contemporary short story.”

Upon learning of her win, she told the CBC, “I would really hope this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.”

More:
Alice Munro in the National Magazine Awards archive
Margaret Atwood on the life and works of Alice Munro (The Guardian)

New book from NMA Winner Ann Dowsett Johnston on Women & Alcohol

A new book by seven-time National Magazine Award winner Ann Dowsett Johnston examines the history and sociology of women and alcohol, confronting recent developments in female drinking behavior, corporate marketing and feminist theory while layering in her own story of abuse and recovery.

According to its publisher, HarperCollins Canada, Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol “combines in-depth research with [the author’s] own personal story of recovery, and delivers a groundbreaking examination of a shocking yet little recognized epidemic threatening society today: the precipitous rise in risky drinking among women and girls.”

With the feminist revolution, women have closed the gender gap in their professional and educational lives. They have also achieved equality with men in more troubling areas as well. In the U.S. alone, the rates of alcohol abuse among women have skyrocketed in the past decade. DUIs, “drunkorexia” (choosing to limit eating to consume greater quantities of alcohol), and health problems connected to drinking are all rising—a problem exacerbated by the alcohol industry itself.

Ms. Johnston is a former editor at Maclean’s, where she edited the annual University Rankings for 14 years, garnering NMA nominations every year from 1992-2004. Her new book grew out of a 13-part series she produced for the Toronto Star on women and alcohol.

The MagAwards blog is back! Latest news…

The Magazine Awards blog is fueled up and ready to roll again after a summer hiatus. Hope you, too, enjoyed your summer, perhaps part of which was spent curled up with the 36th National Magazine Awards Gold Book, a digital collection of this past year’s NMA Gold Winners.

And now for a little Magazine Awards news to get us back in the swing…

Belated congrats to two-time NMA winner Carol Shaben, whose 2012 book Into the Abyss was named the winner of this year’s prestigious Edna Staebler Prize for Creative Non-fiction, an award bestowed by Wilfred Laurier University that includes a cash prize of $10,000. Read our profile of the book Into the Abyss as well as our interview with Carol Shaben about her incredible story and her path to becoming a writer. Ms. Shaben will receive her award in a ceremony on November 13.

Former National Magazine Award winner David Baines has been named this year’s winner of the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Jack Webster Foundation honoring career excellence in British Columbia journalism. The award will be presented at a ceremony in Vancouver on October 30. Mr. Baines has been a reporter at the Vancouver Sun for more than 25 years. He won a Gold National Magazine Award in 1994 for his work in Vancouver Magazine.

This year’s winner of the first National Magazine Award for tablet publishing – Canadian House & Home – caught the attention of the high-profile blog of the software giant Adobe, which featured House & Home‘s tablet edition in a post in August. They noted, “every issue of this magazine is interesting, inventive and takes full advantage of the DPS features that enable an immersive, interactive experience.”

Legion, a periodical of Canadian military history, has been named one of three finalists for this year’s Pierre Berton Award, known more formally as the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Popular Media. Legion won an honourable mention at the 2010 National Magazine Awards for its special issue “World War I: The War that Shaped a Nation.” The other two finalists for this year’s Pierre Berton Award are military historians Tim Cook and Mark Zuehlke. The winner will be announced at the Governor General’s Awards ceremony in Ottawa on November 19.

The award-winning fashion title Flare has unveiled a redesign as of this month’s issue, the product of the magazine’s new creative director Michèle Champagne, and featuring custom calligraphy with a retro feel by Olivia Grandperrin. Editor Amanda Purves explains in her latest note to Flare‘s readers: “When I first met Michèle, she was sustaining herself, after spending several years in Amsterdam, with interesting contract gigs and making her own magazine about graphic design. I instantly knew she had the true vision of an artist. A fashion magazine needs that—the Alexander Libermans, the Fabien Barons—or it’s not special.”

And, Up Here magazine just announced the winners of its Robert Service Poetry Contest, with Gus Barrett of Qualicum Beach, B.C., winning the top prize for “Willy the musher.”

Good to be back on the blog. Stay with us for regular updates this year on National Magazine Award winners, events, news and more, including, of course, updates on this coming year’s National Magazine Awards submissions, slated to open on December 1.

And follow us on Twitter @MagAwards.

NMA winners crowd shortlists for BC Book Prizes

The shortlists for the 29th annual BC Book Prizes were announced today, with five finalists in each category for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s book, illustrated children’s book, and best BC book.

Carol Shaben, whose non-fiction book about Canada’s bush pilot industry (Into the Abyss) was partly based on her investigative article published in The Walrus that won two National Magazine Awards, is one of the finalists for non-fiction.

National Magazine Award-winning poets Evelyn Lau (A Grain of Rice) and Patricia Young (Night-Eater) are both nominated in the poetry category.

Anne Fleming (Gay Dwarves of America) and Bill Gaston (The World) are former NMA winners nominated for their works of fiction.

Read the complete shortlists for the BC Book Prizes here. The winners will be announced at the 29th annual Lieutenant Governor’s BC Book Prizes Gala on Saturday, May 4, 2013, at Government House in Victoria, BC.

Visit the NMA Archives to read the award-winning stories by these and other great writers.

More book news from the National Magazine Awards.

UPPERCASE Magazine raising donations for typewriter book

If you haven’t ever picked up a copy of UPPERCASE magazine, there’s never been a better time. The Calgary-based quarterly periodical of creative arts won the National Magazine Award for Art Direction for its inaugural issue in 2009, and has been a finalist in that category three years running.

Billed as a magazine “for the creative and curious” in the spirit of DIY, UPPERCASE has devoted issues and articles to the creative and innovative side of such crafts as graphic design, letterpress printing, home decor, culinary arts, miniature dollhouses, set decoration, book binding, wardrobe accessories and more.

Under the direction of publisher/editor/designer Janine Vangool, UPPERCASE has also published a collection of books, and its newest project, for which it is raising funds through reader donations, is The Typewriter: A Graphic History of the Beloved Machine.

What will become a richly illustrated book of typewriter memorabilia is being produced with the financial support of readers. The magazine hopes to raise $25,000 to cover the printing costs of 3000 copies of the book, which will launch on June 23 — International Typewriter Day.

Donations of $45 and higher secure a copy of the book when it is published. Larger amounts yield other rewards, including prints of typewriter art and memorabilia, vintage typewriter artifacts, lifetime subscriptions and (for $5000) your own personal design consultation. More info here.

{ Tip o’ the hat: Canadian Magazines blog }

Writers’ Trust Political Writing Prize Shortlist includes NMA Winners

The Writers’ Trust of Canada has announced the shortlist of finalists for the 2012 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

The shortlist includes work by these former National Magazine Award winners and finalists:

  • Marcello Di Cintio for Walls: Travels Along the Barricades
  • Taras Grescoe for Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile
  • Noah Richler for What We Talk About When We Talk About War
  • Jeffrey Simpson for Chronic Condition: Why Canada’s Health-Care System Needs to be Dragged into the 21st Century

Peter F. Trent is also nominated for The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made an Even Bigger Mess of Montreal.

Read more about all the finalists and the Writers’ Trust prizes.

The winner of the $25,000 prize will be announced on March 6.

Shortlist for the Charles Taylor Prize includes former NMA finalist

The shortlist for the 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction was announced this morning at a ceremony at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto.

This year’s shortlist includes a book by former NMA finalist Ross KingLeonardo and The Last Supper. The shortlist also includes books by Carol Bishop-Gwyn, Tim Cook, Sandra Djwa and Andrew Preston.

Click here for the complete announcement and shortlist. The winner will be announced on March 4, and receives a prize of $25,000. The runners up each receive $2000.

Past winners of the Charles Taylor Prize include National Magazine Award winners Andrew Westoll, Charles Foran, Ian Brown, J.B. MacKinnon and Richard Gywn.

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