Toronto writer Ann Shin wins $20,000 Trillium Prize for North Korean novel ‘The Last Exiles’

Toronto debut novelist Ann Shin won the Trillium Book Award for her debut novel, “The Last Exiles,” in the 35th anniversary edition of the award honoring Ontario writers.

Four prizes were awarded in the French and English language categories: book in English, book in French and one in each language for poetry. The winners of the awards, presented by Ontario Creates, were honored at an in-person event in Toronto on Tuesday night, after two years of virtual award ceremonies.

Shin receives $20,000 for his winning title, published by Park Row/Harlequin, a novel inspired by true events about two North Korean lovers that offers a rare insight into life in that country, based on intense research he did to from your own family history. . She adds award-winning authorship to her resume, which includes award-winning filmmaker for her 2014 documentary “The Defector: Escape From North Korea,” which garnered three Canadian Screen Awards. His 2016 documentary “My Enemy, My Brother” was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination and nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award.

Other finalists for the English-language book award, which includes fiction and non-fiction titles, were “Missed Connections: A Memoir in Letters Never Sent” by Toronto writer Brian Francis (McClelland & Stewart); “Aether” by Hamilton-born author Catherine Graham (Buckrider Books/Wolsak & Wynn, curiously a poetry/prose book shortlisted in the books category, not the poetry category); “The Pump” by debut author Sydney Hegele of Grimsby, Ontario. (Unseen Edition); and “The Hunter and the Old Woman” by Toronto writer Pamela Korgemagi (House of Anansi).

Bardia Sinaee, author of the debut book “Intruder” (House of Anansi), won the $10,000 English poetry prize.

Other finalists in that category included Roxanna Bennett’s “The Untranslatable” (Gordon Hill Press) and Liz Howard’s “Letters in a Bruised Cosmos” (McClelland & Stewart).

A prize was also awarded for the best book in French: “Un conte de l’apocalypse” by Robert Marinier (Éditions Prize de parole). The poetry winner was “Exoskeleton” by Chloé LaDuchesse (Mémoire d’encrier).

In addition to the $20,000 Trillium Book Award, the winning publisher receives $2,500 to promote the book; poetry/children’s book award winners receive $10,000 and their publishers $2,000. All shortlisted finalists receive $500.

The Trillium Book Award was established in 1987 by the Ontario government with the goal of recognizing literary excellence and diversity of Ontario writers and writing in both English and French. The award is open to books from any genre, making for a rich and diverse range of winning fiction and non-fiction titles.

Previous Trillium winners have included Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Souvankham Thammavongsa, and Timothy Findley.

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