Shirarose Wilensky named winner of the 2021 Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence


Toronto, June 28, 2021—The Editors’ Association of Canada (Editors Canada) has announced that Shirarose Wilensky of Port Moody, British Columbia, is the winner of the 2021 Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence.

Headshot of Shirarose Wilensky

Wilensky was awarded the $2,000 prize for her work on Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi (Arsenal Pulp Press). The 2021 award recognizes an exceptional editor who played an important role in a project published in the 2020 calendar year.

After she recognized great writing from the slush pile, Wilensky worked with author Francesca Ekwuyasi on her debut novel, Butter Honey Pig Bread.

Wilensky helped balance the stories of the three main characters within a consistent timeline and developed a strategy for retaining Nigerian languages and colloquialisms in the text, which allowed the novel to stay true to the author’s Nigerian origins while also being accessible to non-Nigerian audiences. The judges commended Wilensky for her exceptional editorial skill, including her correspondence with the author, which was thorough, respectful, encouraging and friendly.

“I am honoured to be the recipient of Editors Canada’s 2021 Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence for my work on Butter Honey Pig Bread by the immensely talented Francesca Ekwuyasi!” said Wilensky. “What a privilege to have been a finalist alongside skilled editors Paula Ayer and Mary Newberry.”

“My deepest gratitude goes to Francesca for the gift of her trust in allowing me to collaborate with her on a magnificent and bold debut novel. Finally, my profound appreciation goes to publisher Brian Lam and the inspiring team at Arsenal Pulp Press for their enduring dedication to uplifting the voices of LGBTQ2S+ and BIPOC authors.”

Butter Honey Pig Bread came in second place for Canada Reads 2021 and was shortlisted for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction.

The other editors shortlisted for their editorial excellence were Paula Ayer of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Mary Newberry of Toronto, Ontario.

Headshot of Paula Ayer

Author Emma Hansen stated “An editor is a necessity. This editor is a privilege,” when referring to her editor, Paula Ayer. In Hansen’s memoir, Still: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Motherhood, Ayer helped her go from a blog to a book, telling the story this first-time author needed to tell. With empathy, flexibility and skill, Ayer restructured chapters, changed the tense from past to present, and eliminated tangential material.

Headshot of Mary Newberry

In Going Public: A Survivor’s Journey from Grief to Action by law professor Julie Macfarlane, editor Mary Newberry was challenged with a personal story of sexual abuse interlinked with a discussion of the current legal context. Macfarlane said that Newberry was “the best editor I have ever worked with by far.” Newberry’s respect for the author’s voice showed throughout her work, as did her clear commitment to help the author, not just practically but emotionally as well.

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The judges for the 2021 Tom Fairley Award are respected Canadian editors.

Rosemary Gretton is a freelance editor and writer based in Vancouver. She joined Editors Canada in 2001 and served on the executive of the Editors British Columbia branch before relocating to Northern California for several years. She completed a creative writing certificate at UC Berkeley and writes poetry and creative non-fiction. She enjoys nature photography, the visual arts and music.

Virginia (Ginny) McGowan, PhD, is a non-fiction and academic editor based in Prince Edward Island, although she serves a global clientele. A member of Editors Canada since 2013, Ginny has volunteered on a number of national task forces for the association. She is also a member of the Canadian Freelance Guild, a national association of communication professionals, and the International Mentoring Association. McGowan is the author of a number of non-fiction works, including an award-winning book on mentoring and, most recently, an eco-fable for children.

Rosemary Tanner is a retired freelance editor living in Mount Forest, Ontario. Her specialty was science text books from Grade 8 to university level. Formerly a member of Editors Canada, she spent eight years on the executive and is a past president. She now spends her time volunteering for Cancer Patient Services in Mount Forest and travelling the world (COVID permitting).

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About Editors Canada

Additional information about the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence is available on the Editors Canada website.

Editors Canada began in 1979 as the Freelance Editors’ Association of Canada to promote and maintain high standards of editing. In 1994, the word “Freelance” was dropped to reflect the association’s expanding focus to serve both freelance and in-house editors. As Canada’s only national editorial association, it is the hub for 1,300 members and affiliates, both salaried and freelance, who work in the corporate, technical, government, academic, not-for-profit and publishing sectors. The association’s professional development programs and services include professional certification, an annual conference, seminars, webinars, and networking with other associations. Editors Canada has five regional branches: British Columbia; Saskatchewan; Toronto; Ottawa–Gatineau; and Quebec, as well as smaller branches (called twigs) in Atlantic Canada, Barrie, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton-Halton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph and Manitoba.

Media contact

Michelle Ou
Senior Communications Manager
Editors Canada

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