Four local writers were honoured with the prestigious Ottawa Book Awards and Prix du livre d’Ottawa last night at Ottawa City Hall. They were each awarded a prize of $7,500.
Kagiso Lesego Molope received the Ottawa Book Award in English fiction for her novel This Book Betrays My Brother, published by Mawenzie House. Tim Cook received the prize for English non-fiction for his work The Secret History of Soldiers: How Canadians Survived the Great War, published by Allen Lane, Penguin Random House Canada.
The Prix du livre d’Ottawa award for French fiction went to Andrée Christensen for her novel L’Isle aux abeilles noires, published by Les Éditions David. The award for French non-fiction was presented to Yvon Malette for Entre le risque et le rêve : Une brève histoire des Éditions David, published by Les Éditions David.
Arc Poetry Magazine presented Jenny Haysom with the 2019 Archibald Lampman Award for her poetry collection Dividing the Wayside, published by Palimpsest Press, for the year’s best work of poetry.
The Association des auteures et auteurs de l’Ontario français presented the Prix littéraire Émergence AAOF to Blaise Ndala for his book Sans capote ni kalachnikov, published by Les Éditions Mémoire d’encrier.
Winning books were selected by a jury of peers. They provided the following comments on this year’s winners.
Kagiso Lesego Molope, This Book Betrays My Brother
“A generous storyteller, Kagiso Lesego Molope plunges us into a first-person narration by Naledi, an adolescent growing up in South Africa in the 90s, obsessed with boys, clothes and the other usual etceteras of teenager life. Told in retrospect, this young adult novel is a racking page-turner; the story and its characters are bound and broken by issues of race and class, filial loyalty and betrayal, innocent friendship and sexual awakening, and the sudden and systemic violence against women in a deeply patriarchal society. A must-read for all ages, This Book Betrays My Brother demands that we recognize the price of speaking the truth in a culture of silence.”
Tim Cook, The Secret History of Soldiers: How Canadians Survived the Great War
“The Secret History of Soldiers by Tim Cook, Canada’s pre-eminent military historian, examines the untold story of combatants in the trenches and on the front lines of the First World War. Drawing upon tens of thousands of letters, diaries, memoirs and oral accounts, Cook provides a deep and rich account of the culture created by ordinary soldiers. At once moving, poignant, inspiring and heart-breaking, Cook demonstrates how their songs, poems, plays and newspapers nurtured their resilience, enabling them to withstand the horrors of war.”
Andrée Christensen, L’Isle aux abeilles noires
“Andrée Christensen draws us into an extraordinary story that captures our attention immediately. The reader is gripped by the depth of the language, by the power and maturity of the narration, and by characters portrayed with great tenderness. This novel is the fruit of major research in the fields of both history and beekeeping. Black bees are brought to life and become privileged witnesses, as we are, to this masterful voyage through time.”
Yvon Malette, Entre le risque et le rêve : Une brève histoire des Éditions David
“Through a series of memories and stories, Yvon Malette recounts a singular life and the events that led him to the founding of Les Éditions David, which has become a major cultural institution for Franco-Ontarians. Malette is an excellent storyteller, his language elegant and fluid, and he narrates the challenges inherent in the creation of such an enterprise with audacity and humility. The publication of this kind of work is a gesture of sharing and generosity, and a nod to those carrying on the struggle as well as to anyone dreaming of taking their fate into their own hands.”
Learn more about the Ottawa Book Awards, including jury statements and author biographies.
“This year’s nominees remind us that we are fortunate to have such incredible, talented writers in Ottawa. Through their stories and poems, they show the diversity of our city and shine a spotlight on Ottawa’s thriving literary community.”
Jim Watson, Mayor, City of Ottawa