Non-fiction reads about topics ranging from #MeToo to mosquitoes are in running for the final RBC Taylor Prize.
Canadian literary legend Margaret Atwood named the five finalists vying for the honour, which comes with a $30,000 cheque, at a Toronto event Wednesday morning.
Atwood thanked prize organizers for the books they’ve elevated over 20 years of celebrating Canadian literary non-fiction, which is poised to come to an end with this year’s winner.
“I certainly hope that if it is the last [Taylor Prize], something will take its place,” she said. “From the variety and the quality of the entrants of this year’s prize, the recognition of quality non-fiction is most desirable.”
Among the contenders is Toronto-based Globe and Mail investigative reporter Robyn Doolittle, who is nominated for Had It Coming about justice in the age of #MeToo.
B.C.-based journalist Jessica McDiarmid has been shortlisted for Highway of Tears about the northern stretch of highway where a number of Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing.
Canadian-born, Colorado-based historian Timothy Winegard received a nod for his look at one of humanity’s deadliest pests, The Mosquito, while science writer and former Daily Planet co-host Ziya Tong is nominated for puncturing preconceptions in The Reality Bubble.
Rounding out the short list is Ottawa journalist Mark Bourrie for Bush Runner, a biography of swashbuckling fur trader Pierre-Esprit Radisson, who helped found the Hudson’s Bay Company.
First awarded in 2000, the Taylor Prize honours late Canadian writer and historian Charles Taylor’s commitment to literary non-fiction.
Founder Noreen Taylor said the record 155 books submitted for the 2020 prize shows that her husband’s vision has been fulfilled.
“It’s absolutely thrilling for all ... the people involved in this process to realize we reached every goal we wished to for a branch of literature we felt had been underrecognized.”
Organizers say all previous Taylor Prize winners will be flown to Toronto for a celebration before the final prize is awarded on March 2.