The Writers' Union of Canada is pleased to announce the short list of nominees for the twentieth annual DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD. The Award recognizes the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2016 in the English language. 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 Caroline Adderson, Judy Fong Bates, and David Bergen, who determined the short list from 30 collections submitted, some by seasoned writers, others by authors being published for the first time. Those finalists are:
- Kris Bertin, Bad Things Happen, Biblioasis
- Lyse Champagne, The Light that Remains, Enfield & Wizenty
- André Narbonne, Twelve Miles to Midnight, Black Moss Press
- Kerry Lee Powell, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
- Laura Trunkey, Double Dutch, Astoria
The winners will be announced at the OnWords Conference (June 1 – 4) in Vancouver.
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
2016 DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD
Kris Bertin, Bad Things Happen (Biblioasis)
The ten stories in this collection come at you like the rounds of a heavyweight match. They are tough and bloodied and pure. And yet, beneath the surface there is revealed a surprising softness, as when a mother gathers her damaged adult son to her chest and says, “It’s alright, and it’s all over.” Bertin knows place and he knows language and he knows his characters — the garbage collectors, the overweight landlords, the petty thieves. And then, oh my, there are the children. What a beautiful book.
Lyse Champagne, The Light that Remains (Enfield & Wizenty)
Through the brutal lens of war, the stories in The Light that Remains span the twentieth century and travel the globe. Readers are caught up in the lives of innocent people in Armenia, the Ukraine, Hong Kong, France, Cambodia, and Rwanda, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the harrowing cruelties of war. With clear, elegant prose and a compassionate voice, Lyse Champagne explores loss, love, kindness, hope, despair, the need to survive. In so doing, she forces into the reader’s heart a deeper understanding of the anguish and strength that resides in the human spirit when worlds are shattered beyond recognition.
André Narbonne, Twelve Miles to Midnight (Black Moss Press)
Narbonne does what so many writers fail to do: he makes work, and the vocabulary of work, an organic part of his stories. Then he throws in love, and so arrives at the essential: work and love. These are gutsy, tightly knotted tales — nothing is wasted. Yes, there is anger here, and sadness, and loss, but in the end, what remains is the tender accounting of wisdom and love and god and fealty.
Kerry Lee Powell, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.)
The grimy strip clubs and greasy spoons of Kerry Lee Powell’s imagination bustle with tramps and lunatics, the battered and the scarred. This collection could well have been a downer, but is miraculously the opposite. Dark comedy, hilarious one-liners, and a generous helping of hard-boiled irreverence lighten the despair and ease us, and the characters, to redemption. But more than anything it is Powell’s use of language that lifts these stories off the page. She writes like de Kooning paints, creating worlds bold, brilliant, and chaotic. Powell’s voice, utterly original, delivers a jolt to Canadian writing.
Laura Trunkey, Double Dutch (Astoria)
Double Dutch opens with a dark and comic tale. A mother hears her toddler speaking in his sleep what she believes to be Arabic, and extrapolates that her son may be the reincarnation of a terrorist. And so begins a roller coaster collection of stories that flirt with the fantastic and the absurd, introducing the reader to a wild cast of characters from Ronald Reagan’s body double to a child who appears to perform miracles to living and spirit sisters who grow up together on the family farm. In her debut collection, Trunkey has crafted a book of deftly told stories: playful, disturbing, sad, funny, compassionate, and insightful, stories with twists and turns, which haunt and enchant.
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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