Emeritus Prof Finalist for Prestigious Non-Fiction Prize

December 13, 2013 - Campus Bulletin

University of Guelph English professor emeritus Thomas King is among the nominees for the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize.

The long list of 12 titles was announced this week. The award recognizes Canadian literary non-fiction, and is one of the most prestigious prizes in Canadian literature.

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.

"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."

The long list was chosen from 124 submissions. A short list will be announced on Jan. 15, 2014, with the winner announced next March. Finalists receive $2,000.

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.

The long list also includes 1981 Guelph BA graduate Rob Tripp, who was selected for this book Without Honour: The True Story of the Shafia Family and the Kingston Canal Murders. Tripp has worked in radio, TV and print journalism, and has won a number of awards, including a National Newspaper Award, Canada’s highest honour in print journalism.

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