Wednesday 13 January 2016

Jury Recognizes the Five Best Canadians in Literary Non-Fiction

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 • Toronto, Ontario
RBC Taylor Prize 2016 Shortlist Announced
During a standing-room-only press conference at the Omni King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto, Jurors Susanne Boyce, Joseph Kertes, and Stephen J. Toope announced five finalists and shared their shortlist citations for the fifteenth awarding of the RBC Taylor Prize. To select these five finalists, the jury read and evaluated 120 books written by Canadian authors and submitted by 39 Canadian and international publishers.

The finalists for the 2016 RBC Taylor Prize are:

Ian Brown for Sixty: The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning? Published by Random House Canada

Of the book, the jury said: “Henry James once said that we should “grant the artist his donnĂ©e”—in other words judge writers only on what they have set out to do and how well they have achieved this aim. In Sixty, Ian Brown opens up his diary to us, reflecting on what it means to have entered his seventh decade, nothing more, nothing less. The result is a smart, witty compendium of his thoughts and those of others. Ian Brown is, by turns, hilarious and sad, and the result is both engaging and moving.”

Camilla Gibb for This Is Happy, published by Doubleday Canada

Of the book, the jury said: “Camilla Gibb grew up with a remote and steely mother and a father whose mental illness displayed itself in cruelty. After her own bipolar diagnosis, Gibb searched desperately for stability in her nuclear family. That dream collapsed. How can a writer find ‘happy’ in a messy, unravelling life? Through writing, of course, and by haphazardly building a new family only partly defined by blood. The memoir of a time of salvation, This Is Happy, is exquisitely taut. Through raw, often agonizing writing, we are surprised by a kind of ‘happy’ that flows quietly from companionship.”

David Halton for Dispatches from the Front: Matthew Halton, Canada’s Voice at War, published by McClelland & Stewart 

Of the book, the jury said: “Seventy years ago, Matthew Halton was a household name in Canada. While he was a student in England, Lady Nancy Astor befriended him, providing entry to the political elite. He parlayed access into vital journalism, reporting in the 1930s from Germany where he foretold Hitler’s march to war; then from the battle sites of Al Alamein, Sicily, and Normandy. His vivid personal style gave authority to his work, mesmerizing CBC radio audiences. No hagiography, David Halton’s Dispatches from the Front is a loving but honest account of a father’s triumphs and failings, written in lucid, urgent prose.”

Wab Kinew for The Reason You Walk, published by Viking Canada

Of the book, the jury said: “Brutally honest, original, funny, uncomfortable, and compelling, Wab Kinew’s memoir explores the personal reconciliation of a father and son and that of a country searching for healing and a way forward. When Wab Kinew’s father was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to reconnect and in so doing learned about his dad’s terrifying childhood at residential schools. The reader is transported into an extraordinary world of truth and reconciliation. As he explains: “during our time on earth, we ought to love one another, and that when our hearts are broken, we ought to work hard to make them whole again.”

Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, published by HarperCollins Publishers

Of the book, the jury said: “Combining exacting research with brilliant storytelling, Rosemary Sullivan tells us what it means to be the daughter of Joseph Stalin. As terrifying and mystifying as Stalin was to the Soviets and to the rest of the world, he was doubly so to Svetlana. The result for her was, of course, tragic. The achievement of Rosemary Sullivan’s Stalin’s Daughter is that in this portrait we see the inescapability of tyranny, when the tyrant’s rule is not only political but also personal.”

Noreen Taylor, founder of the Prize and chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation, expressed her delight at the shortlist, stating: “Having read each of the books on the longlist, I know how difficult it must have been to arrive at today’s decision. The jury had to choose between a dozen excellent books, with subjects spanning the deeply personal to the poetic and a quality of writing that is uniformly strong. Hearing now the titles on their shortlist, I am once again impressed by the calibre of our fifteenth jury: their selections reflect the impressive range and passion that is synonymous with the best traditions of literary non-fiction.”

Vijay Parmar, President of RBC PH&N Investment Counsel, shared Mrs. Taylor’s enthusiasm and commented: “RBC Wealth Management is proud to be the longtime presenting sponsor of the RBC Taylor Prize, working in partnership with the Charles Taylor Foundation to bring these thought provoking books to the reading public.”

The RBC Taylor Prize recognizes excellence in Canadian non-fiction writing and emphasizes the development of the careers of the authors it celebrates. All finalists will be supported with extensive publicity and promotional opportunities over the next two months.

Public events already confirmed include a free 90-minute Round Table Discussion in the Atrium of the Toronto Reference Library in downtown Toronto on Thursday, March 3rd, presented by the Toronto Public Library and Harbourfront Centre’s International Festival of Authors; and the Ben McNally/ The Globe and Mail Authors Brunch on Sunday, March 6th at 10:00 a.m. at the Omni King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto (for tickets, please contact Ben McNally Books at (416) 361-0032 or visit

On Monday, March 7th the finalists will be celebrated and the fifteenth winner announced at the annual RBC Taylor Prize gala luncheon at the Omni King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto. The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize and a crystal trophy; the remaining four finalists will each receive $2,000.

About The RBC Taylor Prize
Established biennially in 1998 by the trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation, 2016 marks the fifteenth awarding of the RBC Taylor Prize, which commemorates Charles Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in the field of literary non-fiction. Awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception, the Prize consists of $25,000 for the winner and $2,000 for each of the remaining finalists, as well as promotional support to help all of the nominated books to stand out in the media, bookstores, and libraries. All authors are presented with a custom leather bound version of their shortlisted book at the awards ceremony.

Sharing a commitment to emerging Canadian talent, The Charles Taylor Foundation and RBC will also grant the third annual RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers Award. Shortly after the March 7th announcement of the 2016 Prize winner, he or she will name their choice of emerging author to receive this award.

The trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation are: Michael Bradley, Vijay Parmar, David Staines, Edward Taylor, Nadina Taylor, and Noreen Taylor.

The presenting sponsor of the RBC Taylor Prize is RBC Wealth Management. Its media sponsors are The Globe and Mail (exclusive newspaper sponsor), CNW Group, The Huffington Post CanadaMaclean’s magazine, and Quill & Quire magazine; its in-kind sponsors are Ben McNally Books, Event Source, IFOA, The Omni King Edward Hotel, and the Toronto Public Library Board.

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To download high-resolution images of the finalists and their book covers, please go to

To download high-resolution images of the longlisted authors and their book covers please go to:

To download high-resolution images of the trustees and the jury please go to: