By Bookmarked and Brian Bethune - Friday, February 1, 2013 - 0 Comments
The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, which recognizes excellence in Canadian non-fiction writing, will award $25,000 to the winning author on March 4. Join Maclean’s and the five finalists Feb. 27 for a panel discussion at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.
Ross King, 50, may have a Ph.D. in English literature, a couple of novels and six critically acclaimed books on art history to his credit, including Leonardo and the Last Supper, nominated for the Charles Taylor prize. But as a boy growing up in Saskatchewan, what King really wanted to be was a political cartoonist. A certain Prairie realism—“I had no ability to draw or paint,” he says—sent him to university for 14 years. Next, unable to find an academic job, he tried his hand at historical novels. They did “well enough,” says King, who has lived in Britain since 1992, but he still wanted to write about actual history, particularly art history. “What I took away from novels were the basics of writing them—plot, character, action, atmosphere. I wanted to put all that into books that read like novels except that everything was true.”
King may not be able to draw, but craft well-researched, beautifully written, novel-like illuminations of key moments in the history of Western art? That he can do like few others. Since 2003, three of King’s books have been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, with two of them winning it, including Leonardo.