Monday, 1 February 2010
Barnes E-Talks English
Minutes after learning that his book Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000 had been short-listed for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, author John English sat down with E-Talk producer Jennifer Barnes to talk about the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. E-Talk is preparing a half-hour TV special about the 2010 Charles Taylor Prize, and prior to the Awards Luncheon (February 8th) interviewed the four short-listed authors.
" It is quite an honour to be nominated for one prize but two? I am flattered," said Dr. English as he prepared for his interview with E-Talk. "And, Daniel Poliquin was nominated as well (for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize and the Charles Taylor Prize)."
The irony that his Trudeau bio is competing with a book about Rene Levesque is not lost on Dr. English. Both the Poliquin book and the Trudeau biography look deeply into the rivalry between the two French Canadian leaders.
The E-Talk crew is in the process of interviewing the "stars" of this year's Charles Taylor Prize Award programme. E-Talk is interviewing the authors and members of the Prize Foundation in relevant settings. Short-listed author Kenneth Whyte was interviewed in his Maclean's Magazine office (he is the publisher). Francophone Daniel Poliquin was interviewed in Toronto's most famous French Bistro, Le Select. Ian Brown was filmed in his home and at his desk in the Globe and Mail newsroom. And Dr. English? In a small reading room on the 14th floor of the University of Toronto Robarts Library, near his Dictionary of Canadian Biography U of T office.
In addition to his work as the editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography,he is a professor of history at the University of Waterloo and the executive director of the Centre for International Governance Innovation. Citizen of the World, the first volume of his biography of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, won the Dafoe Book Prize and the University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography, and was shortlisted for The 2007 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. His other books include the multi-award winning two-volume biography of Lester B. Pearson, Shadow of Heaven and The Worldly Years. He lives in Kitchener, Ontario.
This is what the Taylor Prize jury said about his book: "JUST WATCH ME, the second of a two-volume biography, examines the leadership of Pierre Elliott Trudeau as he manages the threats to Canada's unity and prosperity in the last third of the twentieth century. A master of synthesis, John English brings the sharp eye and deft pen of the seasoned historian to his engaging interpretation of Canada's most provocative, if erratic, prime minister. Here is a memorable portrait of Trudeau at full flood, as nation-builder, strongman, electioneer, aesthete, intellectual, outdoorsman, husband, father, and lover, drawn with authority, humanity and sympathy."
The Charles Taylor Prize is the country's most prestigious non-fiction award. Since 2000, the Prize has been a major driving force behind the recognition and growth of Canadian non-fiction. Now in its 9th year, the privately-funded prize celebrates Canada's literary voices, recognizing the exceptional authors and journalists who captivate us with their stories, insights, and writing style. More than 125 submissions competed for a place on the 2010 Shortlist. Originally awarded every two years, since 2005 the Prize has been awarded annually to a Canadian author whose book best demonstrates a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception.
The Prize commemorates the late Charles Taylor, one of Canada's foremost essayists, a foreign correspondent and a prominent member of the Canadian literary community whose dream was to raise the public profile of literary non-fiction.
The Prize consists of $25,000 for the winning author and $2,000 for each runner-up with promotional support for each shortlisted title.
The winner of the 2010 Prize will be announced at a Gala Luncheon and Awards Ceremony on Monday, February 8th. The Prize is presented by the Charles Taylor Foundation with generous support from Bravo!, Book Television, Ben McNally Books, CTV, CNW Group, Event Source, Windfield Farm Limited, Le Meridien King Edward Hotel, The Globe and Mail, and Quill & Quire. For more information: www.thecharlestaylorprize.ca.