Things are certainly looking up for Tamas Dobozy, who has won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for Siege 13 (Thomas Allen Publishers), a series of linked stories that spans the 1944 Soviet siege of Budapest and modern-day Toronto.
“This year started out dismally,” Dobozy told Q&Q after accepting the $25,000 prize at a Toronto gala on Tuesday night. Although he had a deal with Milkweed Editions to release the book in the U.S., Dobozy searched for a Canadian publisher until March, when Thomas Allen acquired the title.
“Suddenly we had to do all these edits to get the book out in time for awards season,” said Dobozy, an associate professor of English at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. “I was going nuts. It was a crazily intense editing process. At least three of the stories had to be rewritten from the ground up.”
Siege 13, which is also nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-language fiction, beat out Tim Bowling’s The Tinsmith (Brindle & Glass), Rawi Hage’s Carnival (House of Anansi Press), Alix Ohlin’s Inside (Anansi), and Linda Spalding’s The Purchase (McClelland & Stewart).
Nova Scotia writer Alex Pugsley, who received the $10,000 Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, shared his experience publishing his winning short story “Crisis on Earth-X.” “This story was rejected three times before The Dalhousie Review picked it out of submissions,” he said. “The fact that it went on to be included in the [Journey Prize] anthology, and was chosen as a winner tonight … it feels kind of random.”
Other winners included Nino Ricci, who joked about the unglamorous plight of the mid-career writer while accepting the $25,000 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award (given to an author in mid-career).
The Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature was presented to Paul Yee, author of more than 25 books portraying the Chinese-Canadian experience, including Ghost Train, winner of a 1996 Governor General’s Literary Award. The Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life was awarded to Jean Little, whose body of work provides unsentimental glimpses into the experience of children living with disabilities.
In total, the Writers’ Trust distributed $114,000 in literary prizes. The winner of the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-fiction will be announced Nov. 12.