Charles Taylor Prize

March 6, 2012 by staff 

Charles Taylor Prize, The winner of The 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction is Andrew Westoll (Toronto, ON) for his book The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery.

Of the book, the jury said: “Brilliantly blending science and storytelling, primatologist and author Andrew Westoll takes us deep into the world of the haunted and haunting rescued research chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. Pulled from decades of horrific lab conditions, rescued chimps live out the balance of their long lives in sanctuaries such as Fauna, cared for and loved by an extraordinary group of people. Westoll deftly draws the reader into the wild day-to-day ride of life with the Fauna chimps and soon their Otherness falls away. Through his lens, the chimps are revealed as the individuals they are, with all their foibles, damage, and possibility — and the reader’s world view shifts on its axis. Heart-rending and heart-warming, this is a stunning and important work of art and documentary and science.”

Andrew Westoll’s winning book, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery, was also nominated for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. He is an award-winning narrative journalist and internationally published author. A former biologist and primatologist, his first book, The Riverbones, is a travel memoir set in the jungles of Suriname, where he once lived as a monkey researcher. He took creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Andrew lives in Toronto with his wife, and continues to write while working at the University of Toronto.

The $25,000 prize was awarded to Andrew Westoll on Monday, March 5th during a gala luncheon, hosted by CBC’s Mary Ito, and held in the historic Sovereign Ballroom of downtown Toronto’s Le Meridien King Edward Hotel. The remaining finalists — Wade Davis, Charlotte Gill, JJ Lee, and Madeline Sonik — each received $2,000.

RBC Wealth Management, presenting sponsor of the prize, will host Andrew Westoll in select cities across Canada to speak about his winning book. Authors at Harbourfront Centre will feature Andrew Westoll at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) in October.

The jurors for The 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction are authors Allan M. Brandt (Cambridge, MA, USA) and Stevie Cameron (Toronto, Canada), and publishing consultant Susan Renouf (Toronto, Canada). They selected The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery from their shortlist of five books, which they in turn selected from their longlist of eleven books. All three jurors each read 115 books, submitted by 35 publishers from around the world. Books in the genre of literary non-fiction, published between November 1, 2010 and October 21, 2011, were eligible for submission if authored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and widely available for purchase in Canada.

The trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation are Michael Bradley (Toronto), Judith Mappin (Montréal), David Staines (Ottawa), and Noreen Taylor (Toronto). When asked about the jury’s selection, Noreen Taylor, founder of the prize, said: “This year’s jury had an exceptionally difficult task, for each of the five finalists presented unique strengths and approaches to their material. Andrew Westoll has the rare capacity to make all of his subjects engaging and memorable. Once introduced to his characters, their stories stay with you, leaving you to hope that he writes a sequel.”

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