Friday, March 2, 2012 |
Shandi Mitchell accepts the Kobzar Literary Award, as jury member Nino Ricci, presenter Joy Kogawa and Shevchenko Foundation President Andrew Hladyshevsky look on (Photo: James Di Donato)
Award-winning director and screenwriter Shandi Mitchell won the Kobzar Literary Award at a gala event in Toronto on Thursday for her debut novel, Under This Unbroken Sky. The award, presented biannually since 2006, commemorates literary work that best presents a Ukrainian Canadian theme. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, playwriting, screenwriting and young adult literature are all eligible for the $25,000 prize.
Mitchell's novel follows the Mykolayenko family as they struggle to survive Prairie life in Depression-era Canada. The jury, which consisted of Denise Chong, Nino Ricci, Randall Maggs and M.G. Vassanji, called Under This Unbroken Sky a "compelling and poignant narrative that honours the ancestry of many Canadian Ukrainians who worked for a better life during the depression era."
The other finalists were:
Mitchell, who is Ukrainian on her father's side, dedicated the award to her grandmother and to the stories she never told. "It did mean a great deal to come back to the Ukrainian community with this story. It meant a great deal to say a story that my baba could never speak aloud. Those silences are chasing generations," she said. "We are losing all our narratives, and we need to gather them."
Mitchell receives $20,000 of the purse. The remaining $5,000 will go to her publisher, Penguin Group Canada. The four remaining finalists received $1,000 each.
CBC's Close to Home spoke with Mitchell about her nomination and the Kobzar Literary Award after she was named a finalist. Listen to Mitchell's conversation with Close to Home host Carmen Klassen below: