Winners Announced for the 25th Danuta Gleed Literary Award

The Writers' Union of Canada
Press Release

The Writers’ Union of Canada announced today that Arnolda Dufour Bowes is the recipient of the $10,000 first prize in the 25th annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award, recognizing the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2021 in the English language.

Of Arnolda Dufour Bowes’ book 20.12m: A Short Story Collection of a Life Lived as a Road Allowance Métis (Gabriel Dumont Institute Press), jury members Mark Anthony Jarman, Derek Mascarenhas, and Carmen Rodriguez said: “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.”

Arnolda Dufour Bowes acknowledges the land on which she resides and pays respect to the ancestors of Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Arnolda — when not wrangling children or pets, creating a honey-do list for her husband, or dabbling in a new art form at their cozy home on the prairies — is writing for fun and working to improve her craft. A dynamic Métis woman, originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Arnolda studied creative writing with Guy Vanderhaeghe at the University of Saskatchewan. Her first book, 20.12m, is a compelling and acclaimed coming-of-age collection of stories based on her father's childhood as part of the marginalized Métis Road Allowance community at Punnichy, Saskatchewan, during the late 1940s. The book is a finalist in three categories at this year's Saskatchewan Book Awards and was among SaskBooks’ best-selling titles of 2021.

Arnolda's first novel for young readers, Maggie-Lou: Métis Girl Superhero of the 21st Century, will be released by Groundwood Publications in 2023. She is currently working on her first adult novel, Five of Diamonds, which follows the turbulent life of a young Métis woman during the 1950s in a remote northern village controlled by the Roman Catholic Church.

Runners-up Silmy Abdullah and Gillian Wigmore will each receive $1,000.

Of Silmy Abdullah’s Home of the Floating Lily (Dundurn Press), the jury said: “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.”

Of Gillian Wigmore’s Night Watch: The Vet Suite (Invisible Publishing), the jury said: “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.”

The short list of five books was announced on April 27, 2022, and also included H. Felix Chau Bradley for Personal Attention Roleplay (Metonymy Press) and Meg Todd for Exit Strategies (Signature Editions).

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 $212,000 to writers and has recognized more than 130 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 Heather O’Neill for Daydreams of Angels, Kris Bertin for Bad Things Happen, Norma Dunning for Annie Muktuk and Other Stories, Carrianne Leung for That Time I Loved You, Zalika Reid-Benta for Frying Plantain, and last year’s winner, Jack Wang for We Two Alone.

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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.

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

Date: June 1, 2022