Skip to main content

Award winning author Miriam Toews, is photographed at her home in Toronto, Ontario, Monday April 7, 2014.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

About the least surprising thing that happened during the Writers' Trust of Canada awards ceremony on Tuesday was that Miriam Toews took home the top prize. As expected, her critically adored sixth novel, All My Puny Sorrows, was awarded the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the $25,000 cheque that comes with it.

A chronicle of two sisters, a writer struggling with relationships and a classical pianist who wants nothing more than to die, the novel beat out a strong list of contenders including André Alexis (Pastoral), Steven Galloway (The Confabulist), K.D. Miller (the story collection All Saints) and Carrie Snyder (Girl Runner).

"Toews manages to marry humour and grief so expertly that the most unbearable sadness is tempered by laughter," read the jury's citation. "Reading All My Puny Sorrows is an unforgettable experience."

Story continues below advertisement

A winner of the same award in 2008 for her novel The Flying Troutmans, Toews is also a finalist (and anecdotal favourite) for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the winner of which will be announced on Monday.

More interesting were the winners of the four body-of-work awards, including the inaugural $25,000 Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize, which was awarded to Ken Babstock. Praised by the jury as being "in a league of his own," Babstock, who currently lives in Vancouver, is a previous recipient of the Griffin Poetry Prize and recently published his fifth collection, On Malice.

"It's a massive honour," Babstock said. "I cannot imagine how difficult a task it was for the jury. … It's a huge number of poets that have three or more solid books out," which is the minimum number to qualify for the prize. "I'm just happy that there's another [award] on the landscape to point to all the quality contemporary poetry produced in the country."

The $25,000 Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award, which honours an author in mid-career, went to Winnipeg's Joan Thomas, whom the jury praised for her "profound understanding of the human condition."

"When I look at the list of people who have won it in the past it's just amazing writers that I admire so much," said Thomas of a prize that in recent years has gone to Lisa Moore, Nino Ricci and Miriam Toews. "It means an awful lot to me to be in their company."

Thomas published her first novel only in 2008 and the jury wrote that they "anticipate the richness of her future endeavours."

"I do find that really encouraging," said Thomas, whose new novel, The Opening Sky, is a finalist for the Governor-General's Literary Award for Fiction. "After [publishing] a book you do struggle to find the impetus to write another book. You have to write each book as if it's your only book, as if it's your first book, and it takes a huge amount of energy to launch into another one."

Story continues below advertisement

Other winners included Cary Fagan, described by the jury as "a master storyteller," who took home the $20,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, and the poet and novelist Susan Musgrave, this year's recipient of the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life, which provides $20,000 to an author "dedicated to writing as a primary pursuit."

Finally, the winner of the $10,000 Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, for best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary journal or magazine, went to Tyler Keevil for his story Sealskin, originally published in The New Orphic Review.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter