Philosophy Professor Up for Prestigious Literary Prize

A book by a University of Guelph philosophy professor is in the running for the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, one of the most lucrative literary prizes in Canada.

Karyn Freedman’s One Hour in Paris was one of 10 books to make the longlist for the coveted $40,000 prize, which was announced Thursday.

“I am thrilled to be nominated, and it is a real privilege to be included in this group of talented and distinguished writers,” Freedman said.

The 10 semifinalists were selected from 134 nominees. U of G graduate Alison Pick is also on the list for Between Gods, a memoir of spiritual awakening.

The shortlist will be revealed later this month, and the winner will be chosen by a three-member jury in early 2015.

“This longlist demonstrates the breadth and quality of non-fiction writing in Canada,” said B.C. Achievement Foundation chair Keith Mitchell.

Last year’s prize winner was retired U of G professor Thomas King, who was recognized for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.

Freedman’s book tells her personal story of rape and perseverance. It takes the reader on a journey of pain and recovery, from an hour of brutal violence in Paris in 1990 to a court trial, to years of silent suffering, to scholarly pursuits and a faculty position, to volunteering in a rape crisis centre in Africa.

Using her background as a philosopher, Freedman combined autobiographical events with philosophical, neuroscientific and psychological reflections around the themes of trauma, recovery and gender inequality.

She also openly discusses the obstacles faced by rape survivors and the personal consequences on sex, intimacy, love and relationships.

“I wrote this book because I thought I had something to share, and I had reached a stage in my own recovery where I felt I could tell my story in a way that others might benefit from,” said Freedman, a U of G professor since 2002.

In an editorial column in today’s Toronto Star, Freedman discusses how talking about sexual assault helps in healing.