Short List Announced for the 2021 Danuta Gleed Literary Award

The Writers' Union of Canada is pleased to announce the short list of nominees for the 25th annual DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD. The Award recognizes the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2021 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 each.

The jury this year comprised authors Mark Anthony Jarman, Derek Mascarenhas, and Carmen Rodriguez, who determined the short list from 29 collections submitted, some by seasoned writers, others by authors being published for the first time. Those finalists are:

  • Silmy Abdullah, Home of the Floating Lily (Dundurn Press)
  • Arnolda Dufour Bowes, 20.12m: A Short Story Collection of a Life Lived as a Road Allowance Métis (Gabriel Dumont Institute Press)
  • Helen Chau Bradley, Personal Attention Roleplay (Metonymy Press)
  • Meg Todd, Exit Strategies (Signature Editions)
  • Gillian Wigmore, Night Watch: The Vet Suite (Invisible Publishing)

The winners will be announced on June 1 at 2 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.

Cover images of the five shortlisted books.

Jury Comments on the Finalists for the 2021 DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD

Silmy Abdullah, Home of the Floating Lily (Dundurn Press)

Home of the Floating Lily is an exquisite examination of connection. Gently revealed familial bonds and implicit ties to home are thoroughly tested — and occasionally broken — in ways that both surprise and charm. Capturing the heart of the Crescent Oak Village Bangladeshi community, Silmy Abdullah’s lustrous prose spans bougainvillea and biryani, while skillfully embodying the intricacies of marital expectation, and parental obligation. Readers will deeply feel each of these stories, and each of these characters.

Arnolda Dufour Bowes (illustrations by Andrea Haughian), 20.12m: A Short Story Collection of a Life Lived as a Road Allowance Métis (Gabriel Dumont Institute Press)

A historical chronicle, a family account, and a coming-of-age story all in one, 20.12m offers a poignant depiction of the life of Métis families as marginalized “Road Allowance” people. The collection flows with the power of truth and the richness of language firmly rooted in oral traditions. Heart-wrenching and heart-warming at once, these short stories celebrate and attest to the resilience and joie-de-vivre of the Métis in the face of injustice; they succeed in turning shame into dignity, and horror into beauty.

Helen Chau Bradley, Personal Attention Roleplay (Metonymy Press)

Helen Chau Bradley’s stories sing with uniquely awkward, difficult, and funny moments. From listicles and YouTube wormholes to never-ending pandemic queues, Personal Attention Roleplay finds the absurdity and hilarity in extremes. Whether it’s capturing the tender voice of a young gymnast, or a queer metal band’s nightmare tour, the narratives in this collection are affirming, absorbing, and utterly impressive.

Meg Todd, Exit Strategies (Signature Editions)

Eloquent and understated at the same time, each of the stories in Exit Strategies creates a universe that immerses the reader in the lives of complex characters undergoing difficult circumstances. Written in the tradition of the finest contemporary western literature, these short stories explore the quotidian with insight and compassion and, in doing so, speak to universal issues and themes.

Gillian Wigmore, Night Watch: The Vet Suite (Invisible Publishing)

Night Watch is a beautiful anthem to the hard world of a rural veterinarian, a life of muscle and blood and guts, all detailed by Gillian Wigmore with surprising delicacy and lyricism. These moving stories make poetic the mountains and gravel roads, the headlights at night and C-sections in doomed barns, the calves and donkeys and horses and otters, the miracles and casualties during nights without sleep. The book is intimate, superb.

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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 2,500 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 writersunion.ca.

For additional information

John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
jdegen@writersunion.ca