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

Toronto’s first novelist Ann Shin won the Trillium Literary Prize for her debut novel, “The Last Exiles,” at the 35th anniversary edition of the prize to honor Ontario writers.

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

Shin receives $20,000 for her winning title, published by Park Row/Harlequin, a true-life novel about two lovers from North Korea that offers a rare insight into life in that country, based on intense research she conducted from his own family history. She adds an award-winning author to her resume, which includes an award-winning filmmaker for her 2014 documentary “The Defector: Escape From North Korea” which won 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.

The other finalists for the English Book Prize – which includes fiction and non-fiction titles – were “Missed connections: A Memoir in Letters Never Sent” by Toronto writer Brian Francis (McClelland & Stewart); “Etherby Hamilton-born author Catherine Graham (Buckrider Books/Wolsak & Wynn, interestingly, a poetry/prose book shortlisted in the book category, not the poetry category); “The pumpby first author Sydney Hegele of Grimsby, Ont. (edit invisible); and “The hunter and the old womanby Toronto writer Pamela Korgemagi (House of Anansi).

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

Other finalists in this category included “The Untranslatable” by Roxanna Bennett (Gordon Hill Press) and “Letters in a bruised cosmosby Liz Howard (McClelland & Stewart).

A prize was also awarded for the best book in French: “A tale of the apocalypse” by Robert Marinier (Éditions Prize de parole). The winning poem is “Exoskeleton” by Chloé LaDuchesse (Memory of the Inkwell).

In addition to the $20,000 Trillium Literary Prize, 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 Literary Award was established in 1987 by the Government of Ontario to recognize literary excellence and diversity among Ontario writers and authors in English and French. The prize is open to books of all genres, which is a rich and diverse range of award-winning fiction and non-fiction titles.

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

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