In the 17-year history of the RBC Taylor Prize, no writer has been nominated for the award more than Ross King.
Although he has yet to win, the Britain-based novelist and art historian was a finalist for the prize in 2007, for The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism; in 2011, for Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven; and again in 2013, for Leonardo and the Last Supper.
Perhaps the fourth time's the charm.
King is among the five finalists – announced at a news conference at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto on Wednesday – for the $25,000 prize, which celebrates the best in Canadian literary non-fiction.
In addition to King, who was recognized for his latest book, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, the finalists include Israeli-Canadian journalist and author Matti Friedman for Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier's Story; McGill professor Marc Raboy for Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World; novelist Diane Schoemperlen for This Is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison, and Other Complications; and Max Eisen, who became a first-time author in his 80s for By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz.
It's a rather unsurprising shortlist, as most of the books have been competing for various prizes over the past several months; both Friedman and King were finalists for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-Fiction last fall; Raboy was a finalist for the most recent Governor-General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction; and all authors except for Eisen were on the longlist of British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.
The five titles were chosen by a jury consisting of novelist Colin McAdam, broadcast journalist Ann MacMillan and historian John English, himself a two-time finalist for the prize. In total, the jury considered 101 books for this year's prize.
The winner of the prize, which honours the late Globe and Mail foreign correspondent and author Charles Taylor, will be announced March 6.
Last year's award went to Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva.