An emotional Miriam Toews won the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for “All My Puny Sorrows” Tuesday night, saying she hopes the heart-wrenching and personal novel about a writer dealing with her suicidal sister will help spark dialogue about such issues.
“It’s a book I would have chosen not to have to write,” she told the Star after, adding that she was “surprised” and “grateful” about her win.
The Rogers Writers’ Trust gala is one of the most lucrative nights on the Canadian literary calendar. The Writers’ Trust of Canada handed out six awards totalling $139,000, to authors both new and veteran, and from a range of literary styles.
The other finalists were André Alexis for Pastoral, Steven Galloway for The Confabulist, K.D. Miller for All Saints and Carrie Snyder for Girl Runner. They each receive $2,500.
Jury members chose the finalists from 127 books from 52 publishers.
Poet Ken Babstock is the inaugural winner of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, also worth $25,000, which recognizes a writer’s exceptional body of work.
Three other “body of work” awards were handed out: Manitoba’s Joan Thomas was awarded the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award worth $25,000; poet and writer Susan Musgrave was awarded the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life, worth $20,000; and children’s book writer Cary Fagan won the $20,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People.
The short story was also honoured with the $10,000 Journey Prize going to Tyler Keevil for “Sealskin,” set in a fish processing plant in British Columbia. The other two finalists — Lori McNulty for “Monsoon Season,” which appeared in Descant magazine, and Clea Young for “Juvenile,” appearing in The Fiddlehead journal — each received $1,000, while the journal that originally published “Sealskin,” the New Orphic Review, received $2,000.