May 5, 2020 The Writers’ Union of Canada is pleased to announce the short list of nominees for the twenty-third annual DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD. The Award recognizes the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2019 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 Lesley Choyce, Norma Dunning, and Djamila Ibrahim, who determined the short list from 24 collections submitted, some by seasoned writers, others by authors being published for the first time. Those finalists are:
- Darci Bysouth, Lost Boys (Thistledown Press)
- Kat Cameron, The Eater of Dreams (Thistledown Press)
- Christy Ann Conlin, Watermark (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
- Terry Doyle, DIG (Breakwater Books Ltd.)
- Zalika Reid-Benta, Frying Plantain (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
The winners will be announced in June.
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
2019 DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD
Darci Bysouth, Lost Boys (Thistledown Press)
Each story in Lost Boys was a surprise, with characters at once intriguing and engaging. Bysouth explores difficult and unusual aspects of life, occasionally slipping into magic realism. Each story begins with a spark and ends with a satisfying conclusion or one that is completely unexpected.
Kat Cameron, The Eater of Dreams (Thistledown Press)
Kat Cameron takes us around the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, as well as the country of Japan, with ease and grace. She walks her reader around Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue and through the Calgary Agricom, topping it all off with a visit to Japan. The Eater of Dreams is a moving tale of one of life’s hardest realities — death. Cameron brings us the Japanese landscape, the shunning of Canadian ex-pats teaching in a foreign country, and the character of Gai-jin, who allows us all to feel anger, sadness, love, and tenderness through grief and the resurrecting of self.
Christy Ann Conlin, Watermark (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
Christy Ann Conlin’s Watermark is an unforgettable collection of mostly dark tales of psychological insight about characters that jump right off the page. Conlin’s characters grapple with difficult life circumstances, old family secrets, and dark thoughts. The stories are often heartbreaking, surprising, and sometimes even creepy. Mystery and danger abound in a deceptively familiar Canadian landscape. An irresistible read.
Terry Doyle, DIG (Breakwater Books Ltd.)
Terry Doyle brings a true East Coast Canada feel and understanding to his work. What may seem simplistic in his work actually makes the reader think and double-think about what his stories tell us. He is obviously a humble writer and humble man, a quality that rarely shines through in the works of many authors. Simple is not easy writing. Simple is difficult. Doyle is able to hold the attention of the reader as he tells you a story, giving you the feeling you are sitting across from him at his kitchen table. He is a writer who works within a true art form and is one to be admired.
Zalika Reid-Benta, Frying Plantain (Astoria, an imprint of House of Anansi Press Inc.)
Zalika Reid-Benta’s debut short story collection, Frying Plantain, is brilliant. Through Reid-Benta’s quiet but unflinching prose, we witness a Black girl’s journey into adulthood. Along the way, we meet characters that are by turns lovable and frustrating, stubborn and vulnerable. Reid-Benta writes her characters into existence with great assurance, skill, and tenderness. Frying Plantain is as accomplished as it is delightful.