It is my distinct honour to announce that The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary has won the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. The Taylor Prize is our country’s most prestigious non-fiction book prize, and although the ceremony was three days ago, I am still in shock about the whole thing. I will never forget the moment my name was announced, in a packed Sovereign Ballroom at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, and the wave of applause that followed. But what happened next? It’s all a bit foggy.
I remember kissing my wife, hugging my parents and giving my editor a high-five. I also remember wading through the standing ovation towards His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, so I could shake his hand. Then I was on stage for a while, thanking the jury and hugging Noreen Taylor, who founded the prize eleven years ago in honour of her husband. I gave a speech, during which I broke down a bit, forgot to thank my agents and my publisher, and listed off the names of the chimps of Fauna, one by one. Thankfully, I remembered to thank my wife.
And then I became the subject of a rather intense little media scrum. The funniest thing about the scrum, or the only thing I remember about the scrum, is how damn polite it was. There were about fifteen audio recorders in my face, and at least four video cameras, but for the first few seconds, no one asked me any questions. It was hilarious! We were all just standing there silently, each reporter waiting for the other to take their turn.
Anyway, an hour later, it was just me, my family, my agents, my publicists and Noreen, standing around and chatting in the Ballroom, none of us keen to leave. We ended up in the bar (of course) but it seemed to take forever to get there. My fellow shortlisted authors were long gone; I never got to say a proper goodbye. And now it’s three days later, The Chimps has had more publicity than I ever thought possible, and it feels as though the general anesthetic is finally beginning to wear off after one hell of an awesome trip to la-la-land.
What a ride. I am so thankful. I guess it’s about time to start thinking about my next book, huh?
This is Noreen and me, immediately after the win. It’s weird… I don’t look unconscious.