Writer Wayne Johnston was presented with the $25,000 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Prize during the Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony in Toronto Tuesday evening, honouring him for his entire body of work.
Johnston, originally from Goulds, often explores Newfoundland and Labrador themes in his books, which include the “The Colony of Unrequited Dreams,” nominated for the Giller Prize, Governor General’s Literary Award, and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction; “The Navigator of New York,” which was also a Giller Prize finalist; and “Baltimore’s Mansion,” a memoir dealing with Johnston’s grandfather, his father and himself, which won the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. Johnston’s latest two novels, “The Custodian of Paradise,” published in 2006, and “A World Elsewhere,” published earlier this year, were both longlisted for the Giller Prize.
Johnston told The Telegram the award came out of the blue for him.
“I was on the road promoting my current book, ‘A World Elsewhere,’ and I got an email from the Writers’ Trust basically saying to give them a call; they had good news. ... And they did,” Johnston said. “It’s great. I can’t name all the writers that (the award has) gone to in the past, but I think I’m in good company.”
The award jury members — David Bergen, Joan Clarke and Miriam Toews — commented on Johnston’s ability to write about the people of this province with empathy, and his narrative style, which they say is unique.
“Wayne’s Johnston’s fiction is subtle, his passion understated, his humour underpinned by tragedy. All of his work, superbly written, is a powerful combination of insight, talent and revelation. It is made to endure,” the jury members wrote.
Established in 2008, the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award honours a writer in mid-career for a body of work. No less than three works, predominantly fiction, are considered.
The Writers’ Trust of Canada presented $114,000 in prize money at the awards ceremony Tuesday.