R.I.P. Alice Munro (1931 – 2024)

“Compared to Anton Chekhov for her peerless short stories for which she won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, Alice Munro (left) has died.FULL STORY


Shaughnessy Cohen Prize winner

May 09th, 2024

John Vaillant (at right) has won the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast (Knopf $25.00). His book has already received other critical acclaim and numerous honors, including being picked as one of The New York Times top 10 books of 2023. This week, Fire Weather was also nominated for the general non-fiction category of the Pulitzer Prize.

In May 2016, Fort McMurray, a key hub in Canada’s petroleum industry, faced a catastrophic wildfire that forced 88,000 residents to flee and caused widespread destruction. In his book, Vaillant delves into this event, likening it to a wildfire version of Hurricane Katrina. He warns that such disasters are not isolated incidents but indicative of a world becoming hotter and more prone to fires due to climate change. Throughout history, fire has shaped human evolution and culture, yet its destructive potential is now being unleashed in unprecedented ways. Vaillant’s compelling narrative intertwines the histories of the oil industry, climate science and modern forest fires, offering a profound exploration of our evolving relationship with fire in the 21st century.

The jury, consisting of past prize winner Joanna Chiu, past prize finalist Dale Eisler, and former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, selected the winner from a pool of 46 books. This is what they had to say about Vaillant’s book: “Like a blazing inferno that commands our attention and awe, we cannot look away from Fire Weather. John Vaillant brings the devastating 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire to life by introducing us, almost affectionately, to the human beings on the frontlines of the fossil fuel industry and the fire it produces that threatens us all. This is a deeply compelling, skillfully crafted story packed with information but completely free of ponderous lecturing. It is terrifying in its honest, textured description of what we have wrought in the name of progress, what we stand to lose, and where we might find the possibility of hope.”



Established in honour of the outspoken and popular MP from Windsor, Ontario, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing is awarded annually for an exceptional book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers. Sponsored by CN, the prize is awarded annually at the Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa.

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