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2024 Book Prize Winner Announced: Fire Weather by John Vaillant

June 10, 2024 / Ariel Gordon / Book Prize

The J.W. Dafoe Foundation is pleased to announce that John Vaillant has won the 2024 John Wesley Dafoe Book Prize for Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada.

Vaillant’s work is the unanimous choice of this year’s jury, who described the winning book this way:

“This is a terrific book, covering an epic chapter in Western Canadian history but with a message that extends globally. In Fire Weather, John Vaillant walks us through the devastating 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire and situates it within the social, economic, and environmental transformations brought to Alberta by the oil industry. He skillfully interlaces the science of climate change with the planet’s human development, creating a compelling case that this fire marked a turning point in the cycle of wildfires. After chronicling the devastating impact of the fire on the community, Vaillant wisely elects not to offer the usual litany of policy prescription but offers expressions of hope about the resiliency of the earth and its peoples.”

The J.W. Dafoe Foundation thanks this year’s dedicated jury members, Dr. Dale Barbour, Dr. Gregory Mason, and Dr. Catherine Cook, for their service to the J.W. Dafoe Foundation and their selection of Fire Weather for the 2024 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize.

The J.W. Dafoe Book Prize, worth $12,000, will be formally awarded at the J.W. Dafoe Foundation’s Book Prize Event this fall in Winnipeg.

The Prize is one of the richest book awards in Canada for excellence in non-fiction, with a focus on major subjects involving Canada, the West, and Canadians, as well as the Canadian nation in international affairs.

It memorializes John Wesley Dafoe, one of the most significant Canadian newspaper editors of the 20th century. During his tenure at the Manitoba Free Press, later renamed the Winnipeg Free Press, from 1901-1944, Dafoe was known for his advocacy of western development, free trade, national independence, and the British Commonwealth.

The Foundation’s activities also support a $10,000 fellowship for M.A. students pursuing studies in international relations, international conflict resolution, economics, history, law or politics at the University of Manitoba; a $1,000 writing award for Manitoba post-secondary students; the annual J.W. Dafoe Political Studies Students’ Conference (PSSC); a prize for student and community newspaper writers established in partnership with the Winnipeg Press Club; and a number of colloquia on Canada in international affairs.


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