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Charles Foran wins Charles Taylor prize for Mordecai Richler biography

Charles Foran wins Charles Taylor prize for Mordecai Richler biography

Nearly a decade after the acerbic Montreal writer’s death, Mordecai Richler seems to be having a moment in the sun. His final novel, Barney’s Version, has been nominated for several Genie awards this year, and today it was announced that Charles Foran’s Mordecai: The Life and Times has won the 2011 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.

The prize aims to enhance public appreciation of the literary non-fiction genre, honouring authors whose work “combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception.” Foran, a Toronto Life contributor, was awarded the $25,000 prize today at a luncheon event, where his biography beat out four other titles: On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women by Stevie Cameron, The Geography of Arrival: A Memoir by George Sipos, The Love Queen of Malabar: Memoir of a Friendship with Kamala Das by Merrily Weisbord and Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven by Ross King.

A jury panel consisting of literature professor Eva-Marie Kroller and writers David Macfarlane and Neil Bissoondath gave Foran’s biography top honours for its evocative portrayal of Richler’s life. In a joint citation from all three members, the jury said Foran’s novel “meets the immense challenge of writing about one of Canada’s most talented and controversial authors.” In his acceptance speech earlier today, Foran specifically thanked Mordecai’s wife, Florence Richler, reports the Globe and Mail. “This book happened because Florence Richler agreed to talk to me,” he said. “She made this book not once, not twice, but three times as good as it would have been otherwise.”

Charles Foran wins Charles Taylor prize [Globe and Mail] • Mordecai Richler bio wins non-fiction prize [CBC News]

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