Thomas King Wins RBC Taylor Prize
March 11, 2014 - Campus Bulletin
Thomas King, an English professor emeritus at the University of Guelph, has received the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize, one of the most highly regarded prizes in Canadian literature.
The award for Canadian literary non-fiction was announced Monday in Toronto. King’s The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America was the jury’s unanimous choice from among 124 submissions.
The jury wrote: “Histories of North America’s Native Peoples abound, but few are as subversive, entertaining, well-researched, hilarious, enraging and finally as hopeful as this very personal take on our long relationship with the ‘inconvenient’ Indian.”
King says he tapped into his own background — from his history studies and teaching of native history to his experience as a native affairs activist — to write the book.
Speaking on CBC News when the book was first nominated, he said, “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.
"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."
A writer, broadcaster and the first aboriginal Massey lecturer, King is one of Canada’s most well-known and respected authors.
The Inconvenient Indian won the $40,000 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction in February and was nominated for the $60,000 Hilary Weston Prize last fall.
King won the 2004 Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s premier prize for literary excellence, for The Truth About Stories, published from his Massey lectures.
He has been short-listed twice for the Governor General's Award, and 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.