The Writers’ Trust of Canada presented the $5,000 prize to the 28-year-old Vancouver writer at a ceremony in Toronto on Wednesday evening. The award celebrates the work of authors under the age of 35, who have yet to publish in book form.
The jury — consisting of Alexander MacLeod, Johanna Skibsrud, and Madeleine Thíen — describes Neale’s story as one that “has it all: pure imaginative power, sharp humour, emotional honesty and real insight. Throw in a hard-to-resist main character – he’s the strong silent type – and add a few flourishes of raw writerly style and you get a finely crafted story that re-plants the hot seed of Latin American magic realism into the cold heart of the Canadian wilderness.”
Other shortlisted stories included Dina Del Bucchia’s “Under the ‘I’” and Kathy Friedman’s “At the Bottom of the Garden.” Both runners-up received $1,000.
All three shortlisted titles are available as free downloads through Apple’s iBookstore.