Three local writers were honoured with the prestigious Ottawa Book Award and Prix du livre d’Ottawa tonight at the Shenkman Arts Centre. David O’Meara, Paul Wells and Philippe Bernier Arcand were each awarded a prize of $7,500. Arc Poetry Magazine also recognized Mr. O’Meara’s book as the year’s best work of poetry and presented him with the 2014 Archibald Lampman Award.
“Our talented local writers are literary ambassadors, critical to helping maintain and build Ottawa’s reputation as a city with a unique cultural identity,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “I’m proud and grateful that the City can continue to encourage and support their work through initiatives like this evening’s awards.”
This year, awards were given to books in three categories. Mr. O’Meara received the Ottawa Book Award in the English fiction category for his book of poetry, A Pretty Sight (Coach House Books). Mr. Wells’s work, The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006- (Penguin Random House Canada), took the prize for English non-fiction.
The Prix du livre d’Ottawa award for French non-fiction was presented to Mr. Bernier Arcand for his book, La dérive populiste (Poètes de brousse). Due to an insufficient number of entries, there was no award in the category of French fiction.
“Tonight’s recipients – indeed all of this year’s finalists – continue to challenge us,” said Councillor Mark Taylor, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee. “Year after year they entertain us and educate us, broadening our minds with works crafted from the heart.”
Winning books were selected by a jury of peers:
- English fiction: Rachna Gilmore, Nadine McInnis, Nicola Vulpe
- English non-fiction: Stephen Brown, Elaine Kalman Naves, Barbara Sibbald
- French non-fiction: Damien-Claude Bélanger, Marcel Olscamp, Claire Trépanier
The jury praised Mr. O’Meara’s collection of poems as “sometimes serious, sometimes puckish, always perfectly tuned… A Pretty Sight captures wonderfully the strange fragility of human existence [and reminds] us that nothing is outside the poet’s ken.”
Mr. Wells’s book was recognized as important and timely, and the jury remarked that the author provides “insights into the [Harper] government’s determination to stay in power, its good fortune in the face of possible adversity, its mistakes and its battle to control information.”
Mr. Bernier Arcand’s writing was applauded for its elegant, free-flowing style. The jury called his book “an essay in the noble sense of the word. It is a very personal, thorough and erudite account of populism […] a well-timed sounding of the alarm.”
Complete jury statements and author biographies are available online at ottawa.ca/bookawards.