On Wednesday morning, in lieu of simply sending out a press release announcing the finalists for this year's Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-Fiction, one of the most lucrative prizes of its kind in Canada, the publishers of each of the nominated books received an unexpected package: a 70-piece puzzle which, when completed, reveals a photograph of the five titles up for this year's prize.
"We didn't want it to be a huge challenge," says Mary Osborne, the Trust's executive director. "You don't want it to be too easy, and you don't want it to be too hard. For some publishers, when they look at it, it [won't] take long – as soon as they see one piece of the spine of one of their books, they're going to know."
The nominees are former University of Toronto professor and celebrated biographer Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, an exhaustive biography of the Russian dictator's only daughter; novelist and visual artist Douglas Coupland for Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent, a somewhat philosophical exploration of the global telecom conglomerate; University of King's College journalism professor Dean Jobb for Empire of Deception: From Chicago to Nova Scotia: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation, the true-crime tale of con man Leo Koretz; Eliott Behar, a former war crimes prosecutor, for Tell It to the World: International Justice and the Secret Campaign to Hide Mass Murder in Kosovo; and Calgary author Lynette Loeppky for Cease: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Desire, in which the author chronicles her time caring for her seriously ill partner.
The winner receives $60,000, while the finalists each take home $5,000.
This year's jury, who considered 97 books submitted by 51 different publishers, is composed of investigative journalist Stevie Cameron, 2012 Giller Prize winner Will Ferguson and Vancouver writer and broadcaster JJ Lee, himself a former finalist for the prize.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Oct. 6.
Last year's winner was Naomi Klein for This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.