Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Over the moon: Ian Brown wins the Charles Taylor Prize

The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction was handed out yesterday evening to Ian Brown for his book The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for his Disabled Son, a kind of memoir about his life with his son Walker.

Walker Brown was born with the incredibly rare condition of cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome, a genetic mutation that resulted in Walker's intellectual impairment, physical disability and the inability to speak, among other things. The Boy in the Moon is about both Walker's life and Brown's relationship with his son.

Originally, Brown - who writes for the Globe and Mail - wrote about Walker in a series of three Globe articles published in December 2007.

The book came out this past September and I went to one of the Toronto post-launch publicity events wherein Brown was interviewed on stage by his wife (and Walker's mum) Johanna Schneller. It was pretty touching to listen to the two of them talk about their son and how their family life changed after he was born and diagnosed (Walker also has an older sister, who Brown mentions every once in a while).

The Charles Taylor Prize is awarded annually and recognizes the non-fiction book that "best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception."

The other nominees were:
The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of Willam Randolph Hearst by Kenneth Whyte; published by Random House Canada
Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968 – 2000 by John English; published by Knopf Canada
René Lévesque by Daniel Poliquin; published by Penguin Canada

The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for his Disabled Son
by Ian Brown
First published in 2009 by Random House Canada (cover image shown from that edition)

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