TORONTO - Saskatchewan author Candace Savage's book about a lesser-known chapter of prairie settlement history has won the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.
"A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape" (Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Foundation) landed the prize on Monday at a ceremony in Toronto, beating out four other finalists who each received $5,000.
Hilary Weston prize jury members described the winning book as "a part-memoir, part history, part geological survey, part lament, part condemnation of the accepted myth of the settlement of the Western Plains, and above all, a haunting meditation on time and place."
"A Geography of Blood" is also a semi-finalist for the $40,000 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. The finalists for that award will be announced Dec. 4.
The Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize is billed as the richest annual literary award for a book of non-fiction published in Canada.
This year's jury included writer and former lieutenant governor of Ontario James Bartleman, writer and past prize finalist Charlotte Gill, and writer and teacher Marni Jackson.
The other finalists were: Kamal Al-Solaylee for "Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes"; Modris Eksteins with "Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age"; Taras Grescoe's "Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile"; and JJ Lee for "The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit."
The Alberta-born Savage, who splits her time between Saskatoon and Eastend, Sask., has written dozens of books and essays.
In 2004, her "Prairie: A Natural History" was named Book of the Year at the Saskatchewan Book Awards, and in 2010 she was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
She also sits on the Saskatchewan board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.