Globe and Mail feature writer Ian Brown is one of five finalists for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-Fiction, it was announced Wednesday.
He is nominated for his book Sixty: A Diary of My Sixty-First Year: The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning?, which was also a finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize earlier this year. The jury hailed Mr. Brown as "that rare, brave writer who is willing – and able – not only to dig deeply and honestly into his own psyche, dreams, fears, and fantasies, but then to write about them in ways that are both intensely personal and also wisely universal."
Historian and author Ross King, a previous finalist for this prize and two-time winner of the Governor-General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction, is nominated for his just-released book Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. In their citation, the jury wrote that "King poignantly captures not only the human drama of one of the world's greatest artists as he rages against – and towards – his life's end even as he creates his most ambitious project, but he also seamlessly weaves that personal story into the larger fabric of world and art history."
Toronto-born, Jerusalem-ased writer Matti Friedman is nominated for his military memoir Pumpkinflowers: An Israeli Soldier's Story, a book the jury called "a haunting meditation on the very rationale of war. Tragic, graceful, and as provocative as it is poetic, Pumpkinflowers is a brilliant achievement."
The short list also includes two first-time Vancouver authors: Sonja Larsen for her unusual childhood memoir Red Star Tattoo: My Life as a Girl Revolutionary, which the jury praised as "courageous and compelling," and Deborah Campbell for A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War, about her search for her Iraqi fixer in Syria after the fall of Saddam Hussein, which the jury said was written with "compelling prose, nuanced context, and intimate narration."
All five finalists – who are all published by Penguin Random House's various imprints – receive $5,000, while the winner takes home a total of $60,000. They were chosen by a jury consisting of writers Carolyn Abraham, Stephen Kimber and Emily Urquhart, who considered 95 titles for this year's prize.
The winner will be announced at the Writers' Trust Awards ceremony on Nov. 2.
Last year's prize went to Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva.