Three local writers were honoured with the prestigious Ottawa Book Award and Prix du livre d’Ottawa tonight at Ottawa City Hall. John Metcalf, Charlotte Gray and Andrée Christensen were each awarded a prize of $7,500. Arc Poetry Magazine also recognized Stephen Brockwell’s collection of poems as the year’s best work of poetry and presented him with the 2017 Archibald Lampman Award.
This year, awards were given to books in three categories. John Metcalf received the Ottawa Book Award in the English fiction category for his collection of linked short stories The Museum at the End of the World (Biblioasis). Charlotte Gray’s work The Promise of Canada: 150 Years – People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country (Simon & Schuster Canada) took the prize for English non-fiction.
The Prix du livre d’Ottawa award for French fiction was presented to Andrée Christensen for her book of poetry Épines d’encre (Les Éditions David). Due to an insufficient number of entries, there was no award in the category of French non-fiction.
Winning books were selected by a jury of peers:
- English fiction: Rita Donovan, Kate Heartfield, David O’Meara
- English non-fiction: Wayne Grady, Alan Morantz, Patricia Smart
- French fiction : Pierre-Luc Bélanger, Michèle Matteau, Jean Mohsen Fahmy
Of John Metcalf’s tour de force collection, the jury noted: “...the reader is in the company of Robert Forde, the at times insufferable, at times poignant protagonist of these linked stories. The writing employs satire and brilliant wordplay to present a worldview embraced, observed, and ultimately lost. The Museum at the End of the World speaks to the existential question of permanence, and to the individual’s place in a shifting world.
Of the non-fiction winner, Charlotte Gray, the jury wrote: “Charlotte Gray’s approach to a definition of Canada is both surprising and surprisingly familiar. By choosing nine Canadians to profile, some, like Tommy Douglas, obvious choices, others, like Harold Innis, more obvious in hindsight -- she arrives at a sweeping, multi-faceted mosaic that seems exactly right. Brilliantly illustrated, beautifully written, this is more than a celebration of Canada’s 150th: it’s a book to be read and savoured for a long time to come.”
The jury praised Andrée Christensen’s work, winner of the French fiction award: “An amazing literary accomplishment, Épines d’encre takes readers on a breathtaking stroll through Andrée Christensen’s rose garden. The poems, embellished with beautiful paintings by the author/artist, conjure bold and stunning images that draw you into a refined and evocative lyrical exploration of emotional tragedy and the fickleness of human destiny.”
More information about the Ottawa Book Awards, including jury statements and author biographies, is available online at ottawa.ca.
“The Ottawa Book Awards are a great way to recognize Ottawa’s talented writing community. These awards not only celebrate the artistic achievement of the finalists and winners, but they also shine a spotlight on Ottawa’s thriving and diverse literary community.”
Mayor Jim Watson
“The Ottawa Book Awards and Prix du Livre d’Ottawa benefit everyone in the literary community and serves as an annual reminder to us all of the wealth of talent produced by writers in our own backyard. Congratulations to all of this year’s finalists.”
Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the City’s Community and Protective Services Committee