Ottawa – Three local writers were honoured with the prestigious Ottawa Book Award and Prix du livre d’Ottawa tonight at Ottawa City Hall. Heather Menzies, Blaise Ndala and Scott Randall were each awarded a prize of $7,500. Arc Poetry Magazine also recognized Shane Book’s collection of poems as the year’s best work of poetry and presented him with the 2015 Archibald Lampman Award.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Ottawa Book Awards.
“Over the past 30 years, the Ottawa Book Awards / Le Prix du livre d’Ottawa have paid tribute to our city’s outstanding writers,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “I am proud that the City encourages and supports their incredible talent through initiatives like this evening’s event”.
This year, awards were given to books in three categories. Scott Randall received the Ottawa Book Award in the English fiction category for his book And to Say Hello (DC Books). Heather Menzies’ work Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good (New Society Publishers) took the prize for English non-fiction.
The Prix du livre d’Ottawa award, for French fiction, was presented to Blaise Ndala for his book J’irai danser sur la tombe de Senghor (Les Éditions L’Interligne). Due to an insufficient number of entries, there was no award in the category of French non-fiction.
“The Ottawa Book Awards / Le Prix du livre d’Ottawa allow us to showcase Ottawa’s rich and diverse roster of writers and literary excellence,” said Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee.
Winning books were selected by a jury of peers:
- English fiction: Mary di Michele, Mark Frutkin, Tim Wynne-Jones
- English non-fiction: Dr. Richard T. Clippingdale, Suzanne Evans, Merilyn Simonds
- French fiction: Edem Awumey, Céline Forcier, Paul Savoie
Of Mr. Randall’s collection of short stories, the jury noted: “...the subtle, psychological undercurrents of these stories reveal a writer working with stunning effectiveness and skill. This is world-class writing that probes the very depths of our everyday lives.”
Of the non-fiction winner, the jury wrote: “In this eloquent memoir written from the heart, Menzies takes the reader on a fascinating trip to the Scotland of her ancestors [...] With a light and at times poetic touch, she offers her insights into how the venerable wisdom of sharing and caring for the land might be applied today.”
The jury praised Mr. Ndala’s writing about the legendary boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman as “...powerful, dense, logical and magical, depicting believable characters who reinvest in the Great Story that continues to speak to us.”
Complete jury statements and author biographies are available online at ottawa.ca/bookawards.