TORONTO — British-Canadian author Kathy Page has won the $50,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for "Dear Evelyn," a wartime romance inspired by love letters between her own mother and father.
Published by Biblioasis, "Dear Evelyn" tracks the 70-year union between the working-class Harry Miles and the strong-willed Evelyn as their relationship is tested by global conflict, the challenges of child rearing and the pursuit of individual meaning in a shared life.
Page, who lives in Salt Spring Island, B.C., beat out four other contenders, including awards darlings Esi Edugyan and Rawi Hage, vying for the $50,000 prize.
Page has twice been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her works of short fiction "Paradise and Elsewhere" in 2014, and "The Two of Us" in 2016.
Jury members Ann Y.K. Choi, Mireille Silcoff, and Robert Wiersema, who read 128 books submitted by 54 publishers in the selection process, praised "Dear Evelyn" as a "timeless page-turning masterpiece."
Page was among seven authors being honoured at the 2018 Writers' Trust Awards, which gave out more than $260,000 in prizes Wednesday night.
Ottawa-based author Elizabeth Hay won the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for "All Things Consoled: A Daughter's Memoir" (McClelland & Stewart), which details her experience acting as a guardian and caregiver to her parents.
"Hay's prose elevates this ordinary rite of passage — the death of one's parents — to something rare and poetic," raved jury members Michael Harris, Donna Bailey Nurse and Joel Yanofsky. "Page-after-page this is a masterclass in observation — a lesson in how meaning can emerge from grief."
Hay, who won the 2002 Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award and the Giller in 2007, was among five finalists who made the short list for the $60,000 prize, billed as the richest annual literary award for a book of non-fiction by a Canadian writer.
The finalists for the fiction and non-fiction prizes each received $5,000.
Acclaimed Winnipeg-based author David Bergen, who won the Giller in 2005 for "The Time in Between," was honoured with the $25,000 Matt Cohen Award celebrating a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer.
Toronto's Alissa York received the $25,000 Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award recognizing a writer of fiction for their mid-career body of work.
Jordan Scott of Royston, B.C., took home the $25,000 Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize, which honours a mid-career poet for their mastery of the form.
Windsor, Ont.-based Christopher Paul Curtis, a former Michigan auto worker who has written several books of historical fiction for children, won the $25,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People.
Shashi Bhat of New Westminster, B.C., was the winner of the $10,000 Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, which honours the best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine, for "Mute," which jurors described as a darkly funny take on academia and pop culture.
"Mute" was published by The Dalhousie Review, which was awarded $2,000. The other two short story finalists received $1,000.