Announcing the finalists for the Mavis Gallant Prize for Nonfiction

Posted on: 18 October, 2020

Category: QWF Awards

Today, we announce the finalists for the Mavis Gallant Prize for Nonfiction, sponsored by an anonymous donor. It comes with a purse of $3,000.

This year’s jury was composed of writers Jeffrey Bachman of Rockville, Maryland, Sonja Boon of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Kate Sterns of Montreal.

The three finalists in the category are:

Danielle Bobker for The Closet: The Eighteenth-Century Architecture of Intimacy

Published by Princeton University Press

From the jury: “Bobker demonstrates the entanglement between architecture and intimacy, revealing the eighteenth-century elite closet not as a personal space, but rather as a deeply performative space, both for its owner and for those invited into it.… Playful and evocative… there is much to chew on and think through here.”

Taras Grescoe for Possess the Air: Love, Heroism, and the Battle for the Soul of Mussolini’s Rome

Published by Biblioasis

From the jury: “Grescoe deftly paints a picture of a community of Rome and its cultural elite… as well as the growing unease with fascism, both in Italy and abroad, particularly in America. He has a novelist’s ability to paint a scene — such as McCormack, reuniting with Mussolini after a long absence, trying to jolly him out of his menacing stare. And while this has clearly been widely, and well, researched, the results are worn lightly.

M. Max Hamon for The Audacity of His Enterprise: Louis Riel and the Métis Nation That Canada Never Was, 1840-1875

Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press

From the jury: “M. Max Hamon has made an important contribution to decolonizing the history of Indigenous peoples in North America.… [He] admirably approaches the complexities of identity, intragroup and intergroup relations, and the act of working with and standing in opposition to forces that are responsible for grave harm, suffering, and injustice. Ultimately, Hamon succeeds in breathing life into a ‘two-dimensional cut-out Riel,’ a historical actor who is more than the person popular historical narratives have allowed him to be.”

Congratulations to all the finalists and their publishers!

Be sure to tune in to QWF’s YouTube page, or visit our website, at 11:00 am every day from October 13-19 to discover the finalists in all of the categories, as they too are announced. Visit the page now and set your reminders!

You can buy copies of the shortlisted works by visiting Paragraphe Bookstore’s website. Paragraphe has a special page dedicated to the QWF Awards finalists with all titles available at a discount.


The winners of this year’s prizes will be announced during a special celebratory video broadcast Gala at on Wednesday, November 4th. Watch the video with the rest of the community as it premieres at 7:00 pm on QWF’s YouTube page.

For those of you who want even more interaction, we invite you to take part in the QWF Red Carpet, taking place in the half hour before the Gala airs. Beginning at 6:30 PM, take a picture of your at-home gala garb and post in on either our Facebook page or on Instagram and Twitter using #QWFGala2020. All who do will be entered into a draw to win a collection of the award-winning books.

Also, immediately following the Gala broadcast, the QWF will be hosting a Zoom After Party. This will give everyone a chance to rub virtual elbows and connect on what would normally be the social event of Quebec’s English-language writing community. Check back to, or QWF’s Facebook page at a later date for the URL.

Let us know you are attending the Gala by RSVPing on Facebook: