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Top Banana: Andrew Westoll's 'The Chimps Of Fauna Sanctuary' Lands Charles Taylor Prize

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'The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery' won the Charles Taylor Prize, Andrew Westoll, literary prizes
'The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery' won the Charles Taylor Prize, Andrew Westoll, literary prizes

An biologist-turned-writer who wrote an account of rescued chimps in Canada has won the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.

Andrew Westoll, from Toronto, won for his book The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery.

Of the book, the jury said: "Brilliantly blending science and storytelling, primatologist and author Andrew Westoll takes us deep into the world of the haunted and haunting rescued research chimps of Fauna Sanctuary.

"Pulled from decades of horrific lab conditions, rescued chimps live out the balance of their long lives in sanctuaries such as Fauna, cared for and loved by an extraordinary group of people.

"Westoll deftly draws the reader into the wild day-to-day ride of life with the Fauna chimps and soon their Otherness falls away. Through his lens, the chimps are revealed as the individuals they are, with all their foibles, damage, and possibility - and the reader's world view shifts on its axis. Heart-rending and heart-warming, this is a stunning and important work of art and documentary and science."

Westoll’s account of his 10-week stay in the rehabilitation centre in rural Quebec was described by The Toronto Star, as "gut-wrenching". The book was also nominated for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

A former biologist and primatologist, his first book, The Riverbones, is a travel memoir set in the jungles of Suriname, where he once lived as a monkey researcher.

He took creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Andrew lives in Toronto with his wife, and continues to write while working at the University of Toronto.

The CAD$25,000 (£15,900) prize was awarded to Andrew Westoll on Monday, 5 March during a gala luncheon in Toronto's Le Meridien King Edward Hotel. The remaining finalists - Wade Davis, Charlotte Gill, JJ Lee, and Madeline Sonik - each received $2,000 (£1,300).

The jurors for The 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction are authors Allan M. Brandt (Cambridge, MA, USA) and Stevie Cameron (Toronto, Canada), and publishing consultant Susan Renouf (Toronto, Canada). They selected The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery from their shortlist of five books, which they in turn selected from their longlist of eleven books.

This is the eleventh awarding of the prestigious Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, which recognises excellence in Canadian non-fiction writing and emphasises the development of the careers of the authors it celebrates.

See Andrew talk about the Fauna Sanctuary: