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2020 Trillium Book Award Winners

WINNER | Trillium Book Award (English)

Téa Mutonji, Shut Up You're Pretty, VS. Books/Arsenal Pulp Press

In Téa Mutonji's disarming debut story collection, a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in fish, and a young woman decides to shave her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. These punchy, sharply observed stories blur the lines between longing and choosing, exploring the narrator's experience as an involuntary one. Tinged with pathos and humour, they interrogate the moments in which femininity, womanness, and identity are not only questioned but also imposed.

Téa Mutonji is an award-winning poet and writer. Born in Congo-Kinshasa, she now lives and writes in Scarborough, Ontario where she was named emerging writer of the year (2017) by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. Shut Up You're Pretty is her first book.

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WINNER | Trillium Book Award (French)

Paul Ruban, Crevaison en corbillard, Flammarion Québec

In Paul Ruban's debut short story collection, an astronaut's mind unravels following a moonwalk; a stuttering teen finds her voice through flamenco; an Elvis impersonator loses his sideburns in search of his true self and Dali's corpse reveals an unexpected surprise. Here are thirty stories that crackle with wit, whimsy, and that are bent on mischief and heart with equal zest. In inventive prose that is in turn playful, poignant and often acutely funny, Crevaison en corbillard lays bare the delightful absurdity of life.

Paul Ruban is the author of Crevaison en corbillard, a collection of short stories published by Flammarion Québec. His writing has appeared in French-language literary journals such as Mœbius, XYZ and Zinc. He has also participated in various collective works, including an anthology of French-Canadian short stories which will be released next fall in Germany. He lives in Toronto.

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WINNER | Trillium Book Award for Poetry (English)

Roxanna Bennett, Unmeaningable, Gordon Hill Press

Unmeaningable welcomes you to the freak show, where the monster on display is a culture that stigmatizes sickness and a system that shames the sufferer. Behold the wonder of the ages, a human mind in a human body, dissected and displayed for entertainment. Witness the ritual of surgical sacrifice! Observe the indignity of institutionalization! Be astounded by the indifference of ableism and ignorance! This uncanny collection of “crippled” sonnets features a thrilling display of cannibals, chimeras, and the crucial question: What meaning can be made of a life lived in pain and isolation?

Roxanna Bennett is a poet living with disability in Whitby, Ontario. She is the author of unseen garden (chapbook, knife | fork | book, 2018) and The Uncertainty Principle (Tightrope Books, 2014). Her poetry has appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies, most recently CV2, Grain, Riddle Fence, PRISM International, Plenitude Magazine, and Tiny Tim Literary Review.

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WINNER | Trillium Book Award for Poetry (French)

Véronique Sylvain, Premier quart, Prise de parole

In Premierquart, the poet revisits the North of her birth through imaginary travels and actual memories. Throughout that journey, she tries to understand the dramas and realities at work in the harsh northern climate. In the process, she relates her own struggles, the solitude, sadness, anguish and the winters that invite introspection. Nature and writing allow her to embark on a quest through a huge familial and literary heritage.

This first collection from Véronique Sylvain juxtaposes nordicity with the identity of an urban woman. It is part of the tradition of established poets like Robert Dickson, Patrice Desbiens, Michel Dallaire and Gaston Tremblay and emerging ones like Sonia-Sophie Courdeau and Daniel Aubin, who have all contributed to forging the northern Ontario poetic aesthetic.

Originally from northern Ontario, Véronique Sylvain lives in Ottawa, where she is completing her master’s degree dealing with representations of the North in Franco-Ontarian poetry. Her poems have appeared in the reviews À ciel ouvert and Ancrages and in the anthology Poèmes de la résistance (Prise de parole, 2019). Véronique devotes herself to various artistic projects, including songwriting, and is in charge of promotion and communications at Éditions David.

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