York English Professor Michael Helm is up for yet another literary prize for his novel Cities of Refuge. Last week he was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize; this week he’s been selected as one of five finalists for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize announced by the Writers’ Trust of Canada yesterday.
Along with Helm, who was nominated for the prize in 2004 for his novel In the Place of Last Things, the nominees for the $25,000 prize are Trevor Cole for Practical Jean (McClelland & Stewart), Emma Donoghue for Room (HarperCollins Publishers), Kathleen Winter for Annabel (House of Anansi Press) and Michael Winter for The Death of Donna Whalen (Hamish Hamilton Canada).
Jury members and authors Lisa Moore, Andrew Pyper and Eden Robinson read 143 titles submitted by 46 publishers. Each finalist will receive $2,500.
In Cities of Refuge, a single act of violence resonates through several lives, connecting close by fears to distant political terrors. At the story’s centre is the complex, intensely charged relationship between a 28-year-old woman and the father who abandoned her when she was young. The novel weaves a web of incrimination and inquiry, where mysteries live within mysteries and the power to save or condemn rests in the forces of history, and in the realm of our deepest longings.
Right: Michael Helm. Photo by Alexandra Rockingham.
Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Toronto’s Isabel Bader Theatre, hosted by CBC Radio One broadcast journalist Shelagh Rogers, on Nov. 2. The Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for short fiction, along with four other prizes will also be awarded during the evening.
For more information, visit the Writers’ Trust of Canada website.