The last of 2013’s three major Canadian literary awards, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, chose its winner Nov. 20. Colin McAdam, author of A Beautiful Truth was clearly more touched by the recognition from a jury of his peers (Alison Pick, Miguel Syjuco and Caroline Adderson) than the cash.
Not that $25,000 wasn’t welcome, he allowed afterwards. Just the latest in a long line of pragmatic RWT winners, McAdam said it would all go “to some practical place, like the mortgage, not a trip to Cuba.”
But the recognition was particularly sweet for a novel—centred on a couple who adopt a chimpanzee as a surrogate son—that was “hard to write and hard to get out.” Hard to get out? “Yes, some publishing resistance.” Though that paled beside the difficulty of “turning philosophy into entertaining art.”
McAdam says that “imagining dramatic roles for chimps was the fun part;” it was portraying people as animals that was hard. “That way of understanding always seems satirical, but it’s actually just day-to-day fact.” As the jury citation had it: “The kind of book you finish just to pick back up again, if only to figure out how he pulled it off.”
In the lead-up to Wednesday night’s awards ceremony, Maclean’s shared excerpts from all five shortlisted works, introduced by the writers’ thoughts on their literary influences. Click the links below to view comments and excerpts each author: