Short List Announced for the 2020 Danuta Gleed Literary Award

The Writers' Union of Canada
Press Release

The Writers' Union of Canada is pleased to announce the short list of nominees for the twenty-fourth annual DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD. The Award recognizes the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2020 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 $1,000.

The jury this year comprised authors Lisa Bird-Wilson, Ian Colford, and Zalika Reid-Benta, who determined the short list from 20 collections submitted, some by seasoned writers, others by authors being published for the first time. Those finalists are:

  • Frances Boyle, Seeking Shade (The Porcupine’s Quill)
  • Kaie Kellough, Dominoes at the Crossroads (Véhicule Press)
  • Sidura Ludwig, You Are Not What We Expected (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
  • Souvankham Thammavongsa, How to Pronounce Knife (McClelland & Stewart)
  • Jack Wang, We Two Alone (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)

The winners will be announced on May 27 at 3 p.m. ET on The Writers’ Union of Canada’s Facebook page.

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

Frances Boyle, Seeking Shade (The Porcupine’s Quill)
In Seeking Shade, Frances Boyle writes movingly and elegantly about the many ways things can go wrong in people’s lives. These are engaging and dramatically persuasive stories of marriages breaking down and relationships gone stale, of people evolving and growing apart, harbouring secrets, engaging in casual betrayals, and facing impossible decisions. Seeking Shade is an unsentimental yet humane collection of short fiction, written with consummate skill and restraint.  

Kaie Kellough, Dominoes at the Crossroads (Véhicule Press)
Kaie Kellough’s captivating stories in Dominoes at the Crossroads are vibrant, challenging tales of diaspora and racial consciousness. Sometimes dreamlike, his stories are always suspenseful, his characters’ quests and dilemmas vividly depicted. Kellough writes from a perspective that is intensely aware of the cultural and historical ramifications of slavery, and how the past continues to exert its influence in the present. His prose is intricate and rich with image and metaphor. Dominoes at the Crossroads is a daring, ambitious, and spellbinding collection of short fiction.  

Sidura Ludwig, You Are Not What We Expected (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
The exquisitely written, poignant, intimate tales collected in You Are Not What We Expected chronicle the fractious dynamics of the Levine family of suburban Thornhill, Ontario. Sidura Ludwig’s characters are struggling with commonplace but challenging life events: aging, loneliness, illness, the deaths of loved ones. The subjects are heavy, but Ludwig’s narratives are not: these subtle, keenly observed stories are leavened with plenty of humour and grace. Ludwig’s expertly crafted but seemingly effortless prose draws the reader into these lives-in-flux and doesn’t let go until the final page. It all makes for a deeply satisfying reading experience.  

Souvankham Thammavongsa, How to Pronounce Knife (McClelland & Stewart)
Souvankham Thammavongsa’s absorbing, poignant tales of Lao immigrant experiences work a subtle magic on the reader. In How to Pronounce Knife we encounter working-class parents struggling to adapt to life in a new country whose children are becoming aware of the huge cultural gap they are going to face as they grow older. Language, longing, and dreams of a better life are the core refrains in these stories, and Thammavongsa’s terse, emphatic prose is powerfully evocative of her characters’ search for a path forward. These are simply constructed, memorable, hard-nosed stories that punch far above their weight.  

Jack Wang, We Two Alone (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
In We Two Alone, Jack Wang has written an instantly engaging and achingly poignant collection of stories about people struggling to preserve their way of life and seeking stability, connection, and meaning. Focusing on Chinese immigrant experiences, Wang’s stories range freely and easily across many decades and a dizzying assortment of geographies. All of Wang’s characters are vividly rendered, their struggles and agonies richly conceived and indelibly portrayed. The writing throughout is atmospheric, highly visual, and peppered with startling and persuasive detail. Long after finishing it, We Two Alone lingers in the mind as a compassionate work by a profoundly talented writer who cares deeply about what it means to be human in turbulent times.  

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The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is the national organization of professionally published writers. TWUC was founded in 1973 to work with governments, publishers, booksellers, and readers to improve the conditions of Canadian writers. Now over 2,300 members strong, TWUC advocates on behalf of writers’ collective interests, and delivers value to members through advocacy, community, and information. TWUC believes in a thriving, diverse Canadian culture that values and supports writers. Learn more at

For additional information
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada

DATE: April 22, 2021