Shashi Bhat of New Westminster, B.C., won the Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for her story “Mute.” Famously, this award often identifies new writers heading for big things by honouring the best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine. Previous winners include Heather O’Neill and Doretta Lau. The prize is worth $10,000 and the journal that publishes the winning entry receives $2,000.
More than 300 writers, publishers and other members of the arts community gathered for the event at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in a ceremony hosted by poet, novelist and TV writer Zoe Whittall.
Besides the marquee awards, four authors received prizes for their contributions to Canadian literature through a body of work: Jordan Scott (Royston, B.C.) won the $25,000 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize; David Bergen (Winnipeg) won the $25,000 Matt Cohen Award, which recognizes a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer; Christopher Paul Curtis (Windsor, Ont.) won the $25,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People; and Alissa York (Toronto), previous winner of the Journey Prize, took home the $25,000 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award, which honours a writer of fiction in mid-career.
The four finalists for the fiction and nonfiction prizes will each receive $5,000, while the two runners-up for the short story award will each take home $1,000.
Those other finalists were, for the fiction prize: The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson, a coming-of-age novel set in Niagara Falls, with ghosts, grief and growing up providing the backdrop, published by Knopf Canada; Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black, which the Star’s reviewer described as “a cinematic epic of slavery and freedom, it’s also a tale of high adventure and scientific endeavour” (Patrick Crean Editions); Rawi Hage for Beirut Hellfire Society, the story of an undertaker in war-torn 1970s Beirut (Knopf Canada); Jen Neale’s debut book Land Mammals and Sea Creatures (ECW Press), which evolved from a short story that won the Writers’ Trust’s 2011 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers.