The 2019 Quebec Writers’ Federation’s Literary Awards took place in Montreal on Tuesday, November 5, uniting the province’s literary community in a celebration of some of the best literature published by Quebec writers in the past year. The winners of these six prestigious prizes were announced at a special gala ceremony sponsored by BMO Financial Group at the Lion d’Or (1676 Ontario St. E.). Each winner received $3,000. This year’s winners are:
Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
- Sponsored by Librairie Paragraphe Bookstore
David Homel, The Teardown (Véhicule Press)
“A superb novel that courageously engages with timeless and timely themes, The Teardown is skillfully composed... telling an important and compelling story filled with interesting and complex characters. It directly engages with the cultural pre-occupations of our time in a manner that is refreshingly open-minded, observant and intelligent. With good intentions and gentleness, it ventures into territories that are dangerous and painful.”
Jury: Tom Abray, Mark Frutkin, Zsuzsi Gartner
Concordia University First Book Prize
- Sponsored by Concordia University
Lindsay Nixon, nîtisânak (Metonymy Press)
“nîtisânak is a symphonic protest song, enraged, celebratory, multi-layered, and genre-blurring as narrative art about being Indigenous and queer in what Nixon calls KKKanada. Sometimes it works as a book of essays, sometimes as a novel that teases out a bildungsroman, sometimes as poetic visions, sometimes as queer theory. The voice is not singular and it is always restless.”
Jury: Chantel Lavoie, Maurice Mierau, John Arthur Sweet
A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry
Tess Liem, Obits. (Coach House Books)
“Nothing—no grief or trauma or brief euphoria—ever stays buried in these poems, which constantly disinter and unearth and unerase, examining the moral imperatives of memory and memorialization.”
Jury: Amber Dawn, Ehab Lotayef, Catriona Wright
Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction
Susan Doherty, The Ghost Garden (Random House Canada)
“The Ghost Garden is nothing less than an act of courage, both on the part of Susan Doherty – who took an immense risk devoting herself to a subject so misunderstood and indistinct – and those who shared their stories with her.”
Jury: Mark Medley, Scott Moodie, Erin Wunker
QWF Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
- Sponsored in memory of Janet Savage Blachford
Raquel Rivera, Yipee’s Gold Mountain (Red Deer Press)
“An exciting page turner, but more than that it is a deeply layered story that explores colonialism, violence, gender, race, sex, and friendship... In few words, Rivera deftly creates the physical worlds of (two) teens; we understand life among the rivers and trails in the pine-covered hills... (as well as) the world of ranches, horses, campfire suppers and cattle roundups. A thoroughly researched, thought-provoking and moving historical novel.”
Jury: Gillian O’Reilly, Matthew Skelton, Sarah Tsiang
Cole Foundation Prize for Translation
Oana Avasilichioaei, The Faerie Devouring (Book*hug)
A translation of La dévoration de fées by Catherine Lalonde (Le Quartanier)
“ With The Faerie Devouring, Oana Avasilichioaei doesn’t only translate language, she translates a language. A language, because Catherine Lalonde clearly wrote La dévoration de fées in an idiom all her own, specific to herself and her motley cast of spectral characters... In other words, this is a most ambitious translation project.”
Jury: Bronwyn Averett, Simon Brown, Sonya Malaborza
More information about the winning authors, including photos and book summaries, is online at the QWF Literary Database, http://quebecbooks.qwf.org
OTHER PRIZES AWARDED AT THE GALA
This year’s ceremony also announced the winner of the QWF Literary Prize for Young Writers. Supported by Champlain, Dawson, Heritage, John Abbott, and Vanier colleges and the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the $1,000 prize is awarded annually to a young Quebec writer between 16 and 24 years old for their short story, poem, or work of non-fiction written in English and published in a recognized literary publication. This year’s Grand Prize winner is QWF Literary Prize for Young Writers is François Provencher for his story “Head of Heaven,” published Footprints. Second Prize went to Benjamin Wexler for “As Bodies Fall,” published by CBC Books. Third Prize went to Curtis McRae for ““We Should Change the Curtains” published in Soliloquies Anthology.
The QWF also bestowed the honorary 2019 QWF Judy Mappin Community Award to writer, archivist and community organizer Louis Rastelli. The co-founder of the non-profit ARCMTL, Rastelli is a champion of underground publishing and co-created Montreal’s first bilingual small press book, zine and comic fair, Expozine in 2002. He receives his award for his dedicated service to Montreal’s independent writing community.
The 3Macs carte blanche Prize was awarded to Eliza Robertson for her piece “Aquanauts” (Issue 35). The prize is awarded annually in recognition of an outstanding submission by a Quebec writer, artist, or translator to carte blanche, QWF's online literary journal (www.carte-blanche.org). The other finalists were place went to Maria Camila Arias for “On Killing a Spider” (Issue 35) and Alexei Perry Cox for “My (Your) Home Movie” (Issue 35).
KB Thors was named the 2020 CBC/QWF Writer in Residence. The position was created in 2016 to help increase local writers’ profiles in the community. Thors will be responsible for producing a series of nonfiction blog posts on Montreal-related themes to CBC Quebec’s audience.
MAX MARGLES RESIDENCY LAUNCHED
At the Gala, the QWF opened applications for a new residency for an English-language Quebec fiction writer, to take place in Dublin, Ireland during the month of August 2020. Max Margles was an in-depth reader, seeking out books that were well-written and engrossing, relevant and meaningful. He kept two Rolodex files – one arranged by author, the other arranged by title.
On these small cards, in his meticulous printing (he was a structural engineer), he summarized the nature of the book, the plot, and his eloquent assessment of the work. When Max died suddenly in 2004, his widow Roslyn looked for projects to endow in Max’s memory. Since the couple have no children, Roslyn carries on this mandate with vigor and pride.
—Quebec Writers’ Federation