Winners Announced for the 20th Danuta Gleed Literary Award

The Writers' Union of Canada
Press Release

VANCOUVER — The Writers’ Union of Canada announced this evening that Kris Bertin is the recipient of the $10,000 first prize in the 20th annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award, recognizing the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2016 in the English language. The announcement was made during OnWords, the Writers’ Union’s annual professional development gathering.

Of Kris Bertin’s book Bad Things Happen (published by Biblioasis), jury members Caroline Adderson, Judy Fong Bates, and David Bergen said: “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.”

Kris Bertin’s stories have appeared in The Walrus, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, PRISM International, and other magazines. He is a two-time winner of the Jack Hodgins’ Founders’ Award for Fiction and has had his work anthologized in The Journey Prize Anthology, Oberon’s Coming Attractions, and EXILE’s CVC Anthology. Kris lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Runners-up Kerry Lee Powell and Laura Trunkey will each receive $500.

Of Kerry Lee Powell’s Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush (published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.) the jury said: “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.”

Of Laura Trunkey’s Double Dutch (published by Astoria) the jury said: “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 short list of five books was announced on May 2, 2017, and also included Lyse Champagne’s The Light that Remains (published by Enfield & Wizenty) and André Narbonne’s Twleve Miles to Midnight (published by Black Moss Press).

The Danuta Gleed Literary 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.

To date, the award has presented more than $145,000 to writers and has recognized more than 100 first collections of short fiction for their excellence. The first recipient was Curtis Gillespie for The Progress of an Object in Motion. Other winners have included Dennis Bock for Olympia, Charlotte Gill for Ladykiller, Pasha Malla for The Withdrawal Method, Ian Williams for Not Anyone’s Anything, and last year’s winner Heather O’Neill for Daydreams for Angels.

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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For additional information
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 Ext. 221