Winners Announced for the 27th Danuta Gleed Literary Award

The Writers' Union of Canada
Press Release

The Writers’ Union of Canada announced today that Lisa Alward is the recipient of the $10,000 prize for the 27th annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award, recognizing the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2023 in the English language.

Of Lisa Alward’s book Cocktail (Biblioasis), jury members Danila Botha, paulo da costa, and Souvankham Thammavongsa, said: “Lisa Alward’s Cocktail is skilful in its ability to capture the nuance and details of daily life in a way that is striking and deeply felt. With beautiful, precise descriptions and expert pacing, she effortlessly reveals tensions that feel both classic and utterly her own. Exploring the emotional and sexual tensions of couples and families in the Sixties and Seventies, these narratives bring the reader to the core of those unspoken moments, leaving us unsettled. The clarity of sound in Lisa Alward's sentences — word after word after word — makes it impossible to turn your ear away. This is a quiet voice that booms.”

Lisa Alward’s short fiction has appeared in The Journey Prize Stories and Best Canadian Stories. She has won The Fiddlehead’s Short Fiction Prize as well as The New Quarterly's Peter Hinchcliffe Short Fiction Award and has also been long-listed for the CBC Short Story Prize. Lisa was born and grew up in Halifax and completed an English degree at the University of Toronto and an MA at Queen Mary University in the UK. In the Eighties and early Nineties, she worked in book publishing in Toronto, before moving with her husband, John, and young family to Vancouver and ultimately to Fredericton, where at fifty she began to write stories. Her debut collection, Cocktail (Biblioasis), was long-listed for the 2024 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction and recently received the New Brunswick 2023 Mrs. Dunster’s Award for Fiction.

Runners-up Paola Ferrante and Rebecca Hirsch Garcia will each receive $1,000.

Of Paola Ferrante’s Her Body Among Animals (Book*hug Press), the jury said: “Her Body Among Animals shows us a writer with a gift for detail. These stories are sharply observed, drawing in magic where the ordinary touches. Her encyclopedic knowledge of animal and insect facts are seamlessly knitted into her stories and the way she uses them to embody her characters, from an albatross thrashing its wings against the glass in a Nanaimo emergency room, to a spider whose need to be herself alienates her from her partner. With sharp but touching insights into mental health struggles, fraught relationships, breakups and identity, Her Body Among Animals is poignant and affecting. Her sentences strike, hiss, and knock you back — leaving you grateful to be here at all.”

Of Rebecca Hirsch Garcia’s The Girl Who Cried Diamonds & Other Stories (ECW Press), the jury said: “The Girl Who Cried Diamonds & Other Stories is a dazzling and original collection that contains an admirable combination of grittiness and the wild, yet somehow always grounding the imagination. Like the love child of Heather O’Neill, Mariana Enriquez, and Carmen Maria Machado, Hirsch Garcia is particularly skilled with extending a metaphor in a way that feels so natural that the reader never consciously has to suspend their disbelief. From a mother and wife who feels so confined by her existence that she becomes a cloud, to a couple who transform into wolves when they fight, to a woman whose every encounter with her partner is ephemeral and painfully short lived, to a girl whose bodily fluids turn into jewels; each story is a revelation, full of profundity and insight.”

The short list of five books was announced on April 24, 2024, and also included Kathryn Mockler for Anecdotes (Book*hug Press) and Idman Nur Omar for The Private Apartments (House of Anansi 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 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 $240,000 to writers and has recognized more than 135 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 Carrianne Leung for That Time I Loved You, Zalika Reid-Benta for Frying Plantain, Jack Wang for We Two Alone, Arnolda Dufour Bowes for 20.12m: A Short Story Collection of a Life Lived as a Road Allowance Métis and last year’s winner, Kim Fu for Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century.

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 2,700 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.

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

Date: June 11, 2024