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Wilfrid Laurier University Press author finalist for Governor General’s Award

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Oct 3/13| For Immediate Release


Brian Henderson, Director
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
519-884-0710 ext. 6123 or


Clare Hitchens, Publicist
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
519-884-0710 ext. 2665 or

WATERLOO – The Memory of Water, by Allen Smutylo, published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press, has been named a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards in the non-fiction category. Also a finalist in the Adventure Travel category in the 2013 Banff Mountain Book Competition, the book chronicles the author’s adventures around the globe in some of the wildest and most captivating waters imaginable. The book is part of the WLU Press Life Writing series.

"The Governor General's Literary Award nomination is, indeed, quite an accomplishment for the WLU Press, and a real indication of the quality of authors that we attract," said Abby Goodrum, vice-president: research.

The Memory of Water probes a crucial and contemporary issue — that of our relationship to water and the wildlife and human life that depend upon it. In the Arctic, Smutylo is attacked by a polar bear, stalked by a rogue walrus, and nearly drowns in ferocious waters. But his Arctic stories also celebrate human creativity as they recount the life of the pre-Inuit people who, hunting in a changing environment, endured many hardships and developed new technologies, such as the sea kayak, to cope.

"This is a well-deserved achievement for Allen Smutylo and the Wilfrid Laurier University Press," said Max Blouw, Laurier president and vice-chancellor. "I thoroughly enjoyed the interesting set of vignettes from the perspective of an artist who loves water environments and is concerned about water quality and conservation. It is part autobiography, travelogue, issue insights and advocacy."

Other stories in The Memory of Water include an account of Smutylo’s sojourn in a small Georgian Bay fishing village as a young artist, an adventure on an urban river in southwestern Ontario, and a portrayal of the complex underwater world of the South Pacific. Travelling the River Ganges in India, the author finds that a massive misuse of water is complicated by a billion people’s faith-based adoration of the same water.

“We were very pleased to learn of the Governor General nomination for The Memory of Water and are excited for Allen,” said Brian Henderson, director of WLU Press. “The book reveals the plasticity and capacity of life writing and champions our series in that field.”

A celebrated artist, Allen Smutylo is a previous winner of the Banff Mountain Book Award in the Adventure/Travel category for his book Wild Places, Wild Hearts: Nomads of the Himalaya. His art can be found in galleries across Canada. He lives in Wiarton, Ontario.

The winners will be announced on November 13, with a celebration on November 28 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, 2011-2012 Laurier writer-in-residence, is a finalist in the fiction category. The 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award finalists can be found at

For more information about the WLU Press and the Life Writing series, please visit:

To read an excerpt of the book published in The Record in April, 2013, please click here.


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