Homes: A Refugee Story shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing - Freehand Books

Homes: A Refugee Story shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing


Homes: A Refugee Story is a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

The finalists for the 2018 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing have been announced. Homes: A Refugee Story (Freehand Books), by Alberta authors Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung, is one of the five books that could win the $25,000 award. The winner will be announced in Ottawa on May 15 at Politics and the Pen 2019.

The Jury for the 2018 Award (André Picard, Angela Sterritt, and Chris Turner) stated: “The Syrian Civil War is a humanitarian catastrophe with global political consequences. In Homes, Winnie Yeung gives the crisis a tender, unforgettable human face, working with Abu Bakr al Rabeeah to detail his flight from the bombed-out streets of Homs to the snowy avenues of Edmonton. This extraordinary story is about the resilience of family in the face of profound terror; Yeung writes with a deceptively simple, meticulously observed eye and novelistic attention to plot and character. As Canadians grapple with the complexities of welcoming thousands of refugees, they would do well to read the powerfully affecting story of Homes.”

About the book: Homes: A Refugee Story began as an after-school project with Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and his English language arts teacher, Winnie Yeung. It chronicles the struggles of the al Rabeeah family, who left their home in Iraq for Syria in hope of a safer life – just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtaposition of growing up as a typical teenager in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends. Homes was a 2019 Canada Reads contender (and winner of the audience vote) and a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. It was also the April 2019 pick for the Big Library Read, the world’s biggest digital book club.

About the Award: Established in honour of the outspoken and popular MP from Windsor, Ontario, the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing is awarded annually for an exceptional book of literary nonfiction, written by a Canadian, that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers. Sponsored by CN, the prize is awarded annually at the Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa. Past winners include Tanya Talaga, Kamal Al-Solaylee, John Ibbitson, Anna Porter, and Jane Jacobs. The other finalists for the 2018 award are: Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand against Big Hydro by Sarah Cox; Boys: What it Means to Become a Man by Rachel Giese; Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada’s Energy Future by Jacques Poitras; and Big Lonely Doug: The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees by Harley Rustad.

More information about the award and finalists can be found at

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