The Writers' Union of Canada is pleased to announce the short list of nominees for the seventeenth annual DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD. The Award recognizes the best first English-language collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2013. The Award consists of cash prizes for the three best first collections, with a first prize of $10,000 and two additional prizes of $500.
The jury this year comprised authors Candas Jane Dorsey, Russell Wangersky, and Ian Williams, who determined the short list from 28 collections submitted. The jury noted the task of creating a short list of five titles was very difficult due to the depth and quality of the submissions they read. This is an ongoing testament to the strength and value of the short story in Canadian literature, and is an especially poignant tribute to the form in the year following Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize win.
Those finalists are:
- Théodora Armstrong, Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility, Astoria
- Lisa Bird-Wilson, Just Pretending, Coteau Books
- Astrid Blodgett, You Haven’t Changed a Bit, University of Alberta Press
- Paul Carlucci, The Secret Life of Fission, Oberon Press
- Eufemia Fantetti, A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love, Mother Tongue Publishing
The winners will be announced at The Writers’ Union of Canada’s OnWords Conference on May 31st.
The Award was created as a celebration of the life of Danuta Gleed, a writer whose short fiction won several awards before her death in December 1996. Danuta Gleed’s first collection of short fiction, One of the Chosen, was posthumously published by BuschekBooks. The Award is made possible through a generous donation from John Gleed, in memory of his late wife, and is administered by The Writers’ Union of Canada.
Jury Comments on the Finalists for the
2013 DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARDS
Théodora Armstrong, Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility, Astoria
Sharp and accomplished, the stories in Théodora Armstrong’s Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility don’t read like a first collection: they read like the work of an accomplished author already comfortable in her skin, and in her characters’ skins as well. They ring with a sense of place and a carved-out space in your mind. You don’t jump towards the unlikely – you simply read and believe that what you read has happened, curving into your head like memories you’d experienced yourself but had forgotten until then. There is a real art to building an experience a reader has never had: Armstrong has that art, yet uses it with care.
Lisa Bird-Wilson, Just Pretending, Coteau Books
Lisa Bird-Wilson writes of women and men making, and sometimes losing, their chances for magic and understanding; loneliness and tragedy abound, and yet also humour and unlikely connections. An isolated teenage mother bonding with her baby is both profoundly together with this other person and yet also still alone: “She longed to tell someone, but there was no-one to tell.” Wesakechak emerges from a wine bottle to bring doomed wishes to a group of people “not so young any more” and “old enough, maybe, to know better,” and yet, at the end, they love him despite the failure of magic answers. Bob’s camping adventure is pure slapstick tragedy, and yet, at the end of it, “for a moment, he thought he knew exactly what it was all about.” Bird-Wilson’s Métis heritage is central and yet also tangential to her power as a storyteller. These stories evoke sadness and the shock of life’s brutality, but also a sense of unexpected kindness and great pleasure.
Astrid Blodgett, You Haven’t Changed a Bit, University of Alberta Press
The characters in Astrid Blodgett’s You Haven’t Changed a Bit live rather than perform. They are being recorded rather than created. And they are being recorded covertly in their kitchens and trucks rather than under the lights of reality TV. Even under the scrutiny of the reader, the characters act without the self-consciousness of being trapped in fiction. Blodgett’s debut collection is a prime example of literary short fiction: she satisfies the voyeuristic impulse; her voice is like clear water; she attends to ordinariness with reverence. Most of all, she enters and enlarges one’s privacy in preparation for living a more attuned life.
Paul Carlucci, The Secret Life of Fission, Oberon
The Secret Life of Fission by Paul Carlucci delivers the explosiveness alluded to in its title – sharp-edged language and a kind of flying-apart. Nothing gentle here: families and relationships are either in the midst of blowing apart or else already hopelessly broken, and all is portrayed with a careful, almost dissected language that prevents the reader from glancing away. The work is spare, careful, direct and fully engrossing. These are stories well told, and unsettling the way only honesty is.
Eufemia Fantetti, A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love, Mother Tongue Publishing
Eufemia Fantetti’s slim volume of stories, A Recipe for Disaster, is more of a treat than a snack for literary foodies who like their stories fun, brisk, and effortless. The theme of food is sustained without dominating the stories; it functions like a recurring secondary character or a soundtrack. Fantetti’s storytelling is both supple and disciplined as if she were whisking plots and characters together until the reader can hardly distinguish whether characters are acting or being acted upon. True to life, that’s how disasters work.
The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing professional authors of books. Founded in 1973, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.
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