Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction Spotlight took place Friday
Saved under Arts, Featured
Tags: authors, Charles Taylor Prize, International Festival of Authors, PEN Canada
KJ Mullins-Toronto: On Friday night Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre held the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction Spotlight featuring Stuart Clark, Richard Ford and this year’s winner of the Charles Taylor Prize Andrew Westroll, part of this year’s International Festival of Authors.
The event was hosted by As it Happens on CBC Radio One’s co-host Jeff Douglas. As the evening began Douglas spotlighted the empty chair on stage featuring the picture of Dawit Isaak. At each event that PEN Canada is part of the empty chair is set to remind the audience that there are writers in the world who are put behind bars just because they have put words on paper. The Eritrean journalist and playwright has been detained without formal charges or a trial since September 2001.
Before the authors took to the stage to give readings from their current books Noreen Taylor, the founder of the Charles Taylor Prize spoke saying that “without our cherished readers none of this would be here.”
Andrew Westroll’s Charles Taylor Prize-winning work, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary takes place in Quebec. There on a large hobby farm a dedicated family and volunteers tend to retired chimps who underwent medical testing akin to torture all in the name of science. For six months Westroll lived with the chimps, earning their respect while discovering a true love for these beautiful animals. Westroll read about his first day at the sanctuary where the chimps playfully spit hot tea, ignored or teased the young author.
For Westroll one of the wonderful things to come out of the Charles Taylor Prize is a friendship with Jane Goodall. During a recent event Westroll introduced Goodall. The ultimate expert in primates put him to the test about his chimp knowledge asking how a male chimp would comfort a female. This lead to Westroll being prompted to pat Goodall’s head and to her happily jumping on him. It was a night that will forever live in Westroll’s memories.
At the first International Festival of Authors Westroll attended one of the authors was Richard Ford. Last night Westroll was very excited to be followed by one of his personal writing heroes.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award Ford read from his latest novel Canada. The novel tells the story of a Montana boy’s life after his parents are jailed for armed robbery. The youth’s tale of live in Saskatchewan is set in three parts. In the end it’s the story of the man.
Ford’s reading was magical. As the audience sat bewitched with his words it was clear that we were in the midst of greatness.
Stuart Clark is a former editor of the UK’s bestselling popular astronomy magazine Astronomy Now and a visiting fellow of the University of Hertfordshire. His The Sensorium of God is the second in a trilogy of novels. It brings the enlightenment period of science into full view, entertaining while educating. Focusing on three science greats, Sir Newton, Edmond Halley and Robert Hook the novel uses lively dialogue to enthrall.