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Doug Saunders

Globe and Mail European bureau chief Doug Saunders has won the $35,000 Donner Prize for Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World, which the jury for the annual award for public-policy writing declared is "a work that analyzes a global trend that we ignore at our peril."

Arrival City, Saunders's first book, highlights global migration as a defining force of 21st-century life and predicts that the volatile communities it creates will become the sites of either great creativity or violence. "This book enriches our understanding of how to interpret the dynamics of migrating people and the ecosystems that best support them," the Donner jury said. "It deserves a broad readership and is a valuable public-policy contribution."

Saunders's book has drawn favourable reviews in Canada and abroad. "Serious, mightily researched, lofty and humane, Arrival City is packed with salient detail and could hardly be more timely," a New York Times reviewer wrote, going on to compare the book to Jane Jacobs's influential The Death and Life of American Cities.

In a brief interview, Saunders called winning the Donner "a huge and very flattering recognition for a book that doesn't fit the usual mould of public-policy books. I'm very impressed that the judges were even willing to consider it."

Established in 1998, the Donner Prize is awarded in recognition of excellence in Canadian public-policy thinking, writing and research. Previous winners include economist Eric Helleiner, pollster Michael Adams and political scientist Tom Flanagan.

Among the four other finalists competing for the 2011 Donner Prize was another book on urban policy, Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy and Urban Sprawl by Pamela Blais. Flanagan was also nominated for his contribution to Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights. The other nominees were Robert Lacroix and Louis Maheu for Le CHUM: une tragédie québécoise and Harry Swain for Oka: A Political Crisis and its Legacy.

Each finalist received $5,000.