Amanda Leslie is the winner of the 2021 Penguin Random House Canada Prize for best MFA nonfiction book proposal. Leslie, a Halifax-based journalist, earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree from the University of King’s College in 2017.
Leslie’s proposal for Wild Places: Exploring Our Connection to Canada’s National Parks, “invites readers to follow her as she uncovers parts of the country that remain unknown to so many of us,” explained Diane Turbide, Penguin Canada’s publishing director and one of the judges for the annual award. “Her work synthesizes elements of settler and Indigenous history, geology and public policy into an entertaining, informative and rewarding read.”
The prize, established by the generosity of Penguin Random House Canada in partnership with Westwood Creative Artists literary agency, celebrates excellence in creative nonfiction and is awarded for the best nonfiction book proposal prepared by a student in their graduating year, or by an alumnus. The proposal includes sample chapters and sections describing the book’s marketability.
The prize is $2,500 and a consultation with a Penguin Random House editor, as well as an offer by Westwood to represent the author.
Submissions were judged by a panel including representatives of Penguin Random House Canada, the King’s School of Journalism and Westwood Creative Artists.
Leslie’s submission was chosen from among five shortlisted finalists, including Gloria Blizzard’s Black Cake, Turtle Soup and Other Dilemmas, Virginia Heffernan’s Settlers in the Wetlands: The Story of the Ring of Fire Discovery, Melinda Jacobs’ Out of Office and Aaron Williams’ On the Hillside: Working with the Last Loggers.
“I’m delighted to see the strength of our graduates’ projects shine through in these proposals,” noted Kim Pittaway, the executive director of the MFA program.
The submissions, added Hilary McMahon, executive vice president of Westwood Creative Artists, “were so distinct from each other in content, style and approach, that it was a rich reading experience but a challenge to choose a winner. Amanda Leslie’s accessible, informed and engaged voice are a strong complement to the breadth and depth of her research.”