Charles Taylor Prize Jury Announces 2013 Shortlist: Five Canadian Authors Vie for Prestigious Prize

TORONTO, Jan. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - This morning, Noreen Taylor, prize founder and chair of the Charles Taylor Foundation, and Vijay Parmar, President, PH&N Investment Counsel, RBC Wealth Management welcomed a standing-room-only crowd of publishers and journalists, who gathered at The King Edward Hotel to hear the names of the five authors shortlisted for The 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction presented by RBC Wealth Management.

This year's jurors are broadcast executive Susanne Boyce, award-winning author and newspaper columnist Richard Gwyn, and author/educator Joseph Kertes. In determining their shortlist, the jury read and reviewed 129 Canadian-authored non-fiction books submitted by 43 publishers from around the world.

The Finalists for the 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction Are:

Carol Bishop-Gwyn (Toronto) for The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca, published by Cormorant Books

Jury Citation: "Carol Bishop-Gwyn does for Celia Franca what history requires and demands. She gives us the complex story of an artist both driven and tyrannical, both sensitive and unreasonable, but someone able, with little help and in what was little more than a cultural backwater, to found a ballet company which was to become one of the best in the world, the National Ballet of Canada. The company still bears her stamp. Bishop-Gwyn's rich biography tells us exactly why."

Tim Cook (Ottawa) for Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King, and Canada's World Wars, published by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Canada

Jury Citation: "We measure Robert Borden and William Lyon Mackenzie King, our two world war prime ministers, by the extent to which each rose to the occasion, led our country to bloody war, and led us out again, each of them effective warriors striving for peace. Tim Cook's Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King, and Canada's World Wars portrays these two men as they really were, men moderately able to lead Canada through a dark time and, despite their numerous shortcomings (particularly Mackenzie King's), able to survive politically. Cook's great achievement is his capturing of Canada as it grapples with its identity."

Sandra Djwa (Vancouver) for Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page, published by McGill-Queen's University Press

Jury Citation: "In taking on the life of P.K. Page, Sandra Djwa needed to be as driven and sensitive as her subject. Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page is not only the story of one of Canada's great artists and poets, but also a history of the flowering of Canadian literature and culture in the twentieth century. Using the tools of the scholar - letters, notes, diaries, manuscripts, texts and interviews - Djwa fashions a compelling and necessary biography. She does the important job of leaving us with the big, rich life story, which gives an extra dimension to the art of a great writer."

Ross King (Woodstock, England) for Leonardo and The Last Supper, published by Bond Street Books, an imprint of Doubleday Canada

Jury Citation: "Leonardo and The Last Supper is the latest in Ross King's studies of medieval Italian masters from Machiavelli to Brunelleschi to, now, the grand master of all, Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper is the most famous painting in the world excepting only for another by the same painter, the Mona Lisa, and it is the painting that raised da Vinci from the status of a highly promising but exasperatingly unproductive painter to the rank of the greatest artistic genius of all time. Leonardo and The Last Supper is a masterly exercise in the art of popular biography.

Andrew Preston (Cambridge, England) for Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy, published by Knopf Canada

Jury Citation: "Fluently written, comprehensively researched, and scrupulously balanced, Andrew Preston's Sword of the Spirit, Shield of the Faith describes how the foreign policy of the United States has been and is influenced, alternately decisively and marginally, by the fact that so many Americans regard themselves as a people chosen to do God's work to others and because American leaders all the way from Lincoln to George W. Bush have used religious convictions to justify political acts. Showing that the centrality of religion in American life is by no means unique to fundamentalists and neo-conservatives, this important work has such chapter titles as "High Priests of the Cold War" and "A Judeo-Christian Foreign Policy," which convey Preston's originality and, indeed, his bravery."

About the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction presented by RBC Wealth Management:

2013 marks the twelfth awarding of Canada's most prestigious award for non-fiction. The winner of this year's $25,000 prize will be announced at a gala luncheon and awards ceremony at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto on Monday, March 4th.

The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction recognizes excellence in Canadian non-fiction writing and emphasizes the development of the careers of the authors it celebrates. All five finalists will be supported by extensive publicity and promotional opportunities, including a mid-cycle author event. As well, they will appear at The Globe and Mail/ Ben McNally Authors' Brunch on Sunday, March 3rd. For tickets: http://www.benmcnallybooks.com/.

The prize commemorates the life and work of the late Charles Taylor, one of Canada's foremost essayists and a prominent member of the Canadian literary community. Charles Taylor was a foreign correspondent with The Globe and Mail and the author of four books: Radical Tories; Reporter in Red China; Six Journeys: A Canadian Pattern; and Snow Job.

Awarded annually 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 winner receives $25,000 and the remaining finalists each receive $2000.

The trustees of the Charles Taylor Foundation are Michael Bradley (Toronto), Judith Mappin (Montreal), David Staines (Ottawa), and Noreen Taylor (Toronto). The Foundation gratefully acknowledges the support of its sponsors for the 2013 prize:

The Presenting Sponsor of The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction is RBC Wealth Management. http://www.rbcwealthmanagement.com/

The Major Sponsor of The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction is Metropia. www.metropia.ca/about.php

Media sponsors are exclusive newspaper sponsor The Globe and Mail, Canada Newswire (CNW) Group, CBC Books and CBC Radio One, The Huffington Post Canada, Maclean's magazine, and Quill & Quire magazine.

In-Kind sponsors are Authors at Harbourfront Centre, Ben McNally Books, Event Source, Indigo Books and Music, The King Edward hotel, and Kobo Inc. For more information please visit: www.thecharlestaylorprize.ca

Further information about the shortlisted authors and their books appears below.

Title Summaries of the books SHORTLISTED for The 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca, written by Carol Bishop-Gwyn, published by Cormorant Books.

Born in 1921 to a working-class family in London, England, Celia Franca was an unlikely candidate for ballet greatness, but what she lacked in material circumstance she more than made up for with an almost unrivalled drive and love of dance. This book tells of the battles, the heartbreaks, the successes, and the accolades shared by Franca and the company she founded.

Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King, and Canada's World Wars, written by Tim Cook, published by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Canada.

A fast-paced narrative that humanizes the war effort through the eyes of the prime ministers, William Lyon Mackenzie King and Sir Robert Borden. Author Tim Cook deploys impressive original research, historical judgment, and novelistic momentum to recreate the challenges faced by two politicians in extreme circumstances. By creating this unique double portrait, the author offers an invaluable perspective of war and war leaders.

Journey With No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page, written by Sandra Djwa, published by McGill-Queen's University Press.

Tracing P.K. Page's life through two wars, world travels, the rise of modernist and Canadian cultures, and later Sufi study, this book details the people and events that inspired her work. Her independent spirit propelled her from Canada to England, from work as a radio actress to a script writer for the National Film Board, from an affair with poet F.R. Scott to an enduring marriage with diplomat Arthur Irwin. Page's poems, fiction, diaries, librettos, and visual art chronicle the story of an incomparable artist and Canadian literary luminary.

Leonardo and The Last Supper, written by Ross King, published by Bond Street Books, an imprint of Doubleday Canada.

In Leonardo and The Last Supper, Ross King chronicles how — amid war and the political and religious turmoil around him, and beset by his own insecurities and frustrations — Leonardo da Vinci created the masterpiece that would forever define him. Many of the myths that have grown up around the painting are wrong, but its true story is even more interesting. This book brings to life a fascinating period in European history.

Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy, written by Andrew Preston, published by Knopf Canada.

The first authoritative work on the profoundly engrossing story of how religion has influenced American foreign relations, told through the stories of the men and women - from presidents to preachers — who have plotted the country's course in the world. The book is an unprecedented achievement: no one has yet attempted such a bold synthesis of American history. It is also a remarkable work of balance and fair-mindedness about one of the most fraught subjects in America.

Biographical Information for the Finalists of The 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

Carol Bishop-Gwyn is a writer and dance historian. She has taught courses at York University, Ryerson University, and the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. She has worked as a broadcaster and producer for CBC Radio and as a freelance magazine writer. She lives in Toronto.

Tim Cook is the Great War historian at the Canadian War Museum. He is the author of five other books, including Shock Troops, which won The 2009 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, and he was a juror for the 2010 prize. He was also awarded the J.W. Dafoe Prize and the Ottawa Book Award for At the Sharp End. He lives in Ottawa.

Sandra Djwa is a professor emeritus of English at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. and the prize-winning author of The Politics of the Imagination: A Life of F.R. Scott and Professing English: A Life of Roy Daniels. She lives in Vancouver.

Ross King is the highly praised and bestselling author of Brunelleschi's Dome, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, The Judgment of Paris, which was shortlisted for The 2007 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power, and two novels, Ex Libris and Domino. Born and raised in Canada, he now lives outside Oxford in England.

Andrew Preston teaches American history and international relations history at Cambridge University, where he is a fellow of Clare College. Before Cambridge, he taught history and international studies at Yale University. He has also taught at universities in Canada and Switzerland, and has been a fellow at the Cold War Studies Program at the London School of Economics. He was born in Ontario and received his BA from the University of Toronto.

SOURCE Charles Taylor Prize

Image with caption: "For the first time, jurors for The Charles Taylor Prize were together for the Prize's Shortlist Announcement in Toronto. The CTP finalists for 2013 were announced by jurors: (L) Joseph Kertes, Susanne Boyce and Richard Gwyn. Photo Tom Sander (CNW Group/Charles Taylor Prize)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130109_C4815_PHOTO_EN_22377.jpg

Image with caption: "Charles Taylor Prize jurors Joseph Kertes, Richard Gwyn and Susanne Boyce chat about their shortlist selections during today's shortlist announcement. Photo Tom Sandler (CNW Group/Charles Taylor Prize)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130109_C4815_PHOTO_EN_22378.jpg

Image with caption: "Noreen Taylor, founder and chair of The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, addresses the audience at today's shortlist announcement in Toronto. Photo Tom Sandler (CNW Group/Charles Taylor Prize)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130109_C4815_PHOTO_EN_22379.jpg

Image with caption: "Noreen Taylor, founder and chair of The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, is enthusiastic about the jury's selection at today's Shortlist announcement in Toronto. The winner of the 2013 prize will be announced on March 4. Photo Tom Sander (CNW Group/Charles Taylor Prize)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130109_C4815_PHOTO_EN_22380.jpg

Image with caption: "Charles Taylor Prize jurors celebrate this year's shortlist with prize founder and chair, Noreen Taylor and Vijay Parmar, President, PH&N Investment Council, RBC Wealth Management. Left to right: Joseph Kertes, Susanne Boyce, Noreen Taylor, Vijay Parmar, Richard Gwyn. Photo Tom Sander (CNW Group/Charles Taylor Prize)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130109_C4815_PHOTO_EN_22381.jpg

Image with caption: "Noreen Taylor, founder and chair of The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction has some good reading ahead of her. She's holding titles from the Shortlist for the 2013 prize, which was announced today in Toronto. Photo Tom Sandler (CNW Group/Charles Taylor Prize)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130109_C4815_PHOTO_EN_22382.jpg




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