Fort St. John author Helen Knott makes longlist for prestigious RBC Taylor Prize

Fort St. John author and activist Helen Knott has made the longlist for the prestigious RBC Taylor Prize.

Knott's memoir, In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience, was among the 12 finalists announced Wednesday for the 20th anniversary of the Prize, billed as “a dozen essential titles that should be on every Canadian's reading list this year.”

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Jurors Margaret Atwood, Coral Ann Howells, and Peter Theroux received more than 150 nominations for consideration.

"Distilling these diverse riches, embracing the social, personal, political, and historical into a mere list of ten, was a profound but rewarding challenge — our list could have been much longer, and indeed it is slightly longer than we were asked for,” the jury said.

In My Own Moccasins was published by University of Regina Press and had its local release in August. The memoir chronicles the personal challenges Knott faced as a young Indigenous woman, and sheds light on spaces traditionally kept in the dark – violence against women, addiction, and cultural identity.

“Often, I find, working in the social work field, that these stories are usually left untold,” Knott said at the release. “For me, writing this was about breaking the silence and allowing people who hold similar stories to see themselves.”

The RBC Taylor Prize was first awarded in 2000 to recognize excellence in literary non-fiction, and commemorate the Canadian writer Charles Taylor, an author of four books and former correspondent and editorial board member for The Globe and Mail.

The Prize consists of $25,000 for the winner and $2,000 for each of the runners up, as well as promotional support.

Eleven other distinguished Canadian literary voices made the long list for the 2020 prize, including Ted Barris for his book Rush to Danger: Medics in the Line of Fire, and Jessica McDiarmid for her book Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The shortlist will be announced January 8, 2020, with the winner announced during a gala on March 2.

Full Long List

  1. Rush to Danger: Medics in the Line of Fire by Ted Barris, published by Harper Collins Canada

  2. Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie, published by Biblioasis

  3. The Grandmaster: Magnus Carlsen and the Match That Made Chess Great Again by Brin-Jonathan Butler, published by Simon & Schuster

  4. Had it Coming: What's Fair in the Age of #MeToo by Robyn Doolittle, published by Allen Lane

  5. We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib, published by Viking Canada

  6. In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience by Helen Knott, published by University of Regina Press

  7. Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by Jessica McDiarmid, published by Doubleday Canada

  8. The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love and Britain Becomes Modern by Robert Morrison,published by W.W. Norton

  9. Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian Carp Crisis by Andrew Reeves, published by ECW Press

  10. The Mongolian Chronicles: A Story of Eagles, Demons and Empires by Allen Smutylo, published by Goose Lane Editions

  11. The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World by Ziya Tong, published by Allen Lane

  12. The Mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard, published by Allen Lane

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca. 

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