The shortlist for the third annual Penguin Random House Canada MFA Prize offers “a window into the quality and range of work our students produce,” says Kim Pittaway, executive director of the University of King’s College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction.
The five shortlisted projects include works of personal memoir, journalistic investigation, contemporary issues and more.
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.
“The shortlist this year displays an impressive range of place names, from the metal-rich area of the James Bay Lowlands to Haida Gwaii forests, from digital nomads working in Bali to fjords in our national parks to a kitchen in Trinidad,” said Diane Turbide, publishing director at Penguin Canada. “But even more impressive is the level of skill on display as the writers employ different narrative forms and techniques to explore their subjects. It was truly invigorating to read these entries, each offering unique insights into a corner of the world. It will be tough to pick a winner!”
Added Hilary McMahon, executive vice president of Westwood Creative Artists: “This is a contest that judges proposals. We needed writers to convince us of the audience for their work, and effectively highlight competitive titles and angles for publicity, marketing and sales. The writers we chose for the shortlist demonstrated original ideas and engaging writing within that strong proposal framework. Honing these skills is an essential step in developing an idea and setting it on the path to publication.”
“I’m delighted to see the strength of our graduates’ projects shine through in these proposals, and as always, impressed by the range of topics and the skill with which they have been tackled,” added Pittaway. “We also value the contributions of time, insight and resources by our partners in this prize at Penguin Random House Canada and Westwood Creative Artists Limited.”
Submissions were judged by a panel including representatives of Penguin Random House Canada, the King’s School of Journalism and Westwood Creative Artists.
The winner will be announced in May.
The 2021 finalists are:
About Penguin Random House Canada
Penguin Random House Canada, the country’s largest book publisher, aims to nourish a universal passion for reading by connecting authors and their writing with readers everywhere. The company publishes over 500 new original titles per year in the North American market across nineteen distinct imprints and distributes another 10,000 titles in Canada on behalf of Penguin Random House publishers in the U.S. and the U.K., and many clients. It has also developed its own Toronto-based audiobook program, and runs an in-house recording studio. Visit penguinrandomhouse.ca for more information.