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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Winner

Earlier this evening, the winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize was announced.  The award went to Yasuko Thanh for her novel Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains.

Plot summary:  Vietnam is a haunted country, and Dr. Nguyen Georges-Minh is a haunted man.  In 1908, the French rule Saigon, but uneasily; dissent whispers through the corridors of the city. Each day, more Vietnamese rebels are paraded through the streets towards the blade of the guillotine, now a permanent fixture in the main square and a gruesome warning to those who would attempt to challenge colonial rule.  It is a warning that Georges-Minh will not heed.  A Vietnamese national and Paris-educated physician, he is obsessed by guilt over his material wealth and nurses a secret loathing for the French connections that have made him rich, even as they have torn his beloved country apart.  With a close-knit group of his friends calling themselves the Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, Georges-Minh plots revenge on the French for the savagery they have shown to the Vietnamese.  And it falls to Georges-Minh to create a poison to mix into the Christmas dinner of a garrison of French soldiers. It is an act that will send an unmistakable message to the French: Get out of Vietnam.  But the assassination attempt goes horribly wrong.  Forced to flee into the deep jungles of the outer provinces, Georges-Minh must care for his infant son, manage the growing madness of his wife, and elude capture by the hill tribes and the small--but lethal--pockets of French sympathizers.

The jury wrote the following:  “With compelling narrative drive, Yasuko Thanh imbues Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains with atmosphere and resonance, and creates mesmerizing characters who undergo complex change — politically, socially, personally, sexually — as they are gathered into a vortex of intrigue and risk. The author is as fearless and as wise in reshaping the mystique of the revolutionary as she is in delineating a dramatic time and place in this elegant and tantalizing novel" ( 

For summaries of the five novels chosen as finalists, go to

The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, celebrating its 20th year and sponsored by Rogers Communications Inc.,  recognizes Canadian writers for the year’s best novel or short-story collection as selected by a three-member, independent judging panel.  Thanh will receive $25,000.

For more information about the winners in all the categories, check out