BY JOHN COLEMAN
The 2010 Trillium Book Award winners are Ian Brown’s The Boy In The Moon for best English language book, Ryad Assani-Razaki’s Deux Cercles for best French language book, Karen Solie’s Pigeon for best English language book of poetry, and Michèle Matteau’s Paraselles for best French language book of poetry.
CanLit heavyweights Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro were beat out by Brown in the most anticipated Trillium category, best English language book. Perhaps not to much surprise, The Boy In The Moon: A Father’s Search For His Disabled Son (Random House) already won the B.C. National Award, Canada’s highest paying non-fiction prize at $40,000, in January and the 2010 Charles Taylor Prize. The Boy In The Moon is a compilation of articles Brown wrote for the Globe and Mail on living with his eleven year old son Walker, who has Cardiofaciocutaneous Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
The French language prize for best book was also in hot contention with writers like Nicole Champeau and Daniel Soha in the running. Ultimately, the judges fancied Ryad Assani-Razaki’s debut work, Deux Cercles (VLB Éditeur), published in April 2009. The book is a compilation of short stories about dealing with the difficulties of immigration in everyday life.
Karen Solie’s English language poetry winner Pigeon (Anansi) is becoming her catalyst for success in 2010. Pigeon is Solie’s third poetry compilation and, among the Trillium, has also won the Griffin Poetry Prize and Pat Lowther Award this year. Her two earlier works, Short Haul Engine (2001) and Modern and Normal (2005) earned many award nominations (Engine won the 2002 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize). But this year, Pigeon is topping best-seller lists while rooting Solie in the CanLit scene.
French language poetry winner, Passerelles (Les Éditions L’Interligne), just means more success for acclaimed Francophone writer Michèle Matteau. Poet, playwright, novelist, Matteau has published nine French language books. She won the 2001 Trillium Award for her novel Cognac et Porto, and the 2005 Prix Christine Dimitriu-Van-Saanen Award for her novel Un Doigt de Brandy dans un Verre de Lait Chaud (A Finger of Brandy in a Glass of Warm Milk).
The Trillium Literary Award is the highest award for authors in Ontario. Funded by the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Trillium Award for best English and French language book was established in 1987. Categories for best English and French language books of poetry were added in 2003. Popular previous winning authors include Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Thomas King, and Alistair MacLeod. Best book winners receive $20,000, best book of poetry winners receive $10,000.