The City of Calgary, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and the 17th Ave Retail & Entertainment District are pleased to announce the shortlist authors for The City of Calgary 2015 W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. It is one of 16 awards presented as part of the Calgary Awards.
The three finalists are Sharon Butala for Wild Rose (Coteau Books), Will Ferguson for Road Trip Rwanda: A Journey into the New Heart of Africa (Viking Canada – Penguin), and Eugene Stickland for The Piano Teacher (BHouse Publications).
“Wild Rose”, is Sharon Butala’s most recent novel. Butala’s heroine, Sophie Hippolyte, is a young, naive Québécois woman living in southwest Saskatchewan in the 1880s. In Butala’s most unforgettable novel yet, we follow Sophie’s journey from an under loved child in religion-bound rural Québec, to a headstrong young woman, to exhausted homesteader, to deserted bride and mother, to independent businesswoman finding her way in a hostile, if not beautiful, landscape. She finds she has to make her own way in what was then a decisively man’s world. Sharon, an award-winning author of numerous works, has lived in Calgary since 2007.
In “Road Trip Rwanda: A Journey into the New Heart of Africa”, Will Ferguson travels with a friend twenty years after the genocide that left Rwanda in ruins. His book offers a collage of stories about atrocities and healing, loss and recovery, family and friendship, old ways and new. It is a well researched, poignant reflection of the realities of individuals caught in the cross-hares of civil conflict and provides insight into many current social-political situations in Africa and beyond. Will, a Calgarian, is an award-winning author of books ranging from travel adventure to literary fiction.
Eugene Stickland’s debut novel, “The Piano Teacher”, touches on the lonely path of a musician whose reclusive life compounds his solitude. The free lessons he inadvertently offers to a seven-year-old girl reconnect him to the world and motivate him to return to the stage to perform the 2nd Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto. The three journals (green, mauve, black notebooks) which constitute the framework of the novel, represent the protagonist’s confession, personal probes and affirmation of his own existence and values. Mixed with nostalgia and a subtle sense of humour, Stickland’s novel offers some profound reflections on contemporary life while seeking compromise between past and present values. Eugene lives in Calgary and is a playwright, journalist and educator.
The City of Calgary established the W.O. Mitchell Book Prize in honour of the late Calgary writer W.O. Mitchell to recognize literary achievement by Calgary authors. The $5,000 prize is awarded each year for an outstanding book published in the award year. The 2014 recipient was Chris Turner for “How to Breathe Underwater: Field Reports From an Age of Radical Change” (Biblioasis).
The recipient of The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize will be recognized at the Calgary Awards presentation on September 28, 2016. The Calgary Awards will be televised live on Shaw TV.