Queen's grad wins non-fiction book prize
Queen’s grad Andrew Westoll (Artsci ’00) is the winner of the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.
Mr. Westoll received the prestigious award for his book, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery (HarperCollins, 2011). The honour was announced this week at a gala luncheon in Toronto.
“The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary is about my adventures working as a volunteer caregiver for a family of ex-laboratory chimpanzees, who are living out their retirement on a hobby farm on the south shore of Montreal,” Mr. Westoll explained in a recent CBC interview. “It’s also about our complicated relationship with our closest evolutionary cousins, and how we might be on the verge of a breakthrough in the way we view our membership in the animal kingdom.”
Westoll lived among the chimps for 10 weeks, feeding and interacting with the animals, and getting to know their individual character traits. The book chronicles his time with the chimps as they slowly learned to interact, play, and live outside the confines of a laboratory.
Mr. Westoll is a biologist and primatologist-turned-writer. He studied biology at Queen’s before pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. He combined his love of biology and writing in his first book, The Riverbones (2009), which chronicled his travels to Suriname in search of a rare species of frog. His work has been published in The Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic and other publications. He is also an occasional science columnist on CBC Radio One.
The $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction was established in 1998. It is presented annually to a Canadian author whose book best demonstrates a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style and a subtlety of thought and perception.