Emeritus Prof Finalist for Prestigious Non-Fiction Prize

September 19, 2013 - News Release

University of Guelph English professor emeritus Thomas King is among nominees for the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-Fiction.

The Writers' Trust of Canada, which administers the prize, revealed a short list of five titles Wednesday. The award is the richest prize celebrating a Canadian book of non-fiction.

King, a writer, broadcaster and first aboriginal Massey lecturer, was recognized for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.

King says he tapped into his own background — from his study of history and work teaching native history to his experience as a native affairs activist — to write the book.

"I know that people have generally very little bits and pieces of native history that they understand, but they really do not understand the arcs of native history," he told CBC News.

"I thought: 'You know what? I'm in a fairly decent position to write a book like that' — and so that's what I did. And it was a lot of fun, and it was fairly painful, too. Whenever you go back into your past and look at the history that you've been part of, when you look at history that happened before you were born to the people you're a part of, it hits spots that are fairly painful."

Other nominees are:
- J.B. MacKinnon, author of The 100-Mile Diet, for his book The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be.

- Graeme Smith, former Globe and Mail foreign correspondent, for The Dogs are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan.

- Andrew Steinmetz, fiction editor and author, for This Great Escape: The Case of Michael Paryla.

- Priscila Uppal, poet, playwright and writing professor at York University, for her memoir Projection: Encounters With my Runaway Mother.

The finalists were chosen from more than 100 submissions. The winner of the $60,000 prize will be announced at a gala at Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario on Oct. 21. Finalists will receive $5,000 each.

King is one of Canada’s most well-known and respected authors. In 2004, he won the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s premier prize for literary excellence, for The Truth About Stories, published from his Canada Massey Lectures. The lectures were presented in fall 2003 over nine days in five provinces. They were recorded and broadcast on the CBC Radio program Ideas.

He has been short-listed twice for the Governor General's Award and has won the Canadian Authors' Award for fiction and the American Indian Film Festival Best Screenplay award for Medicine River. He received the Aboriginal Media Arts Radio Award for Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour, a popular CBC Radio show he starred in and created. In January 2003, he received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for arts and culture.

King began teaching at U of G in 1995, after completing his PhD at the University of Utah.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or kgonsalves@uoguelph.ca.

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