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A Canadian literary prize is ending for a wonderfully Canadian reason.

Aaron Robertson

November 21, 2019, 1:55pm

The Charles Taylor Foundation, a charity organization that supports Canadian writers, gave a cheery explanation for why a literary prize it’s been co-sponsoring for two decades is coming to an end next year: they accomplished exactly what they’d set out to do.

For almost 20 years, the Foundation has been awarding the RBC Taylor Prize for the best Canadian literary non-fiction. Charles Taylor, who died in 1997, was an author, journalist, and thoroughbred racehorse breeder (!) who wrote about everything from life in 1960s Peking to Canada’s role in the Vietnam War.

The Prize was established in 2000 in light of conversations Taylor and his wife, Noreen, had been having “about the importance of strong non-fiction writing in the development of both critical thinking and civil discourse.” The Taylors thought non-fiction struggled to find a foothold in conversations about literature in Canada, not to mention bestseller lists.

In a statement on the Foundation’s website, Noreen Taylor said they had “achieved every goal that Charles and I set out. With winners, finalists, Emerging Writers and more recently the Mentorship program, we have collectively touched the lives of more than 100 writers in this country.”

An in-house study of the Canadian publishing market convinced the Foundation that, “in the 20 years since the Prize’s founding, [nonfiction] had developed into a major component of Canadian publishing.”

Margaret Atwood will be among the jurors to determine the final prize recipient, who will be announced in March 2020.

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