The Writers' Trust Awards brought the curtain down on a long season of literary prizes Wednesday evening with an implicit declaration that there is no single best Canadian fiction book of the new year.
Colin McAdam took home the most prominent award of the evening, winning the $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for his novel A Beautiful Truth, a narrative high-wire act about an infertile couple who adopt a chimpanzee. The jury remarked that it, "is the kind of book you finish just to pick back up again, if only to figure out how he pulled it off."
McAdam bested Lynn Coady, who had taken home the Giller Prize earlier this month for her short-story collection Hellgoing. But another one of their fellow finalists received her own Writers' Trust prize: Lisa Moore, nominated for both the Giller and the Writers' Trust for her novel Caught, was honoured with the $25,000 Engel/Findley Award, given to a writer in mid-career for a body of work.
"While Moore's canvas is contemporary Newfoundland – in particular the city of St. John's where she lives – her understanding and portrayal of human character and relationships is universal," the jury said in a statement.
The $20,000 Matt Cohen Award, given "in celebration of a writing life," was presented to Andrew Nikiforuk, a tireless Alberta-based journalist whose books include Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent and The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude. "As a journalist and author of major investigative books, Nikiforuk cares deeply about accuracy, government accountability and the cumulative impacts of policies that affect all citizens," said the jury.
Naben Ruthnum won the $10,000 Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for Cinema Rex, a short story about three young friends published in the Summer 2012 issue of The Malahat Review.
The children's author Barbara Reid, who frequently builds the illustrations for her books out of Plasticine, won the $20,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People.
Publisher McClelland & Stewart received the award for Distinguished Contribution, given to an individual or organization with a long involvement in the Canadian literary community.