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Naomi Klein wins Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize

Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (photo: Tom Sandler)

Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (photo: Tom Sandler)

Naomi Klein’s environmental manifesto This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Knopf Canada) has won the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-fiction. The award was presented at a gala on Tuesday night held at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

In the seven years since Klein’s last book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, the social media landscape has changed dramatically, which she told Q&Q has given her a “wonderful freedom to reach readers directly without an intermediary.”

“I do feel like our attention spans are so much more scattered and you do have to fight for readers even more – it’s a rare occasion that we actually read books. I do think that because it’s rare when we do, we do it with greater commitment and it has more of an impact,” she says. “I think all writers have to work that much harder to keep people away from their feeds. But people continue reading the book, which continues to shock me.”

ThisChangesEverythingKlein’s husband, director Avi Lewis, is currently working on a feature documentary inspired by the book, slated for release in winter 2015. “To get a new idea in the culture it’s harder than ever before, you have to come through a bunch of different directions,” says Klein. “The film is adding a whole other texture and layer because it’s not a talking-head film; it’s a film that brings you into the movement that the book chronicles, but in a way that the book can’t do. You can hear people in their own voices and see how they live.”

This Changes Everything was selected from 92 submissions by a jury comprising 2o11 Weston Prize winner Charles Foran (Mordecai: The Life & Times), 2013 award nominee Priscila Uppal (Projection: Encounters With My Runaway Mother), and 2010 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize finalist Merrily Weisbord (The Love Queen of Malabar). In selecting the winner from the five-title shortlist, the jury was joined by film director Deepa Mehta and CBC broadcaster Peter Mansbridge, who praised This Changes Everything as “groundbreaking.”

The other Weston Prize finalists are Susan Delacourt for Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them (Douglas & McIntyre); Charles Montgomery for Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design (Doubleday Canada); Paula Todd for Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online (Signal/McClelland & Stewart); and Kathleen Winter for Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage (House of Anansi Press).

Klein says that immediately after the shortlist announcement on Sept. 17, the spirit between the finalists “was incredibly supportive. I don’t know if it is always like that, but it’s been a lovefest right from the beginning.”