Inuk writer Norma Dunning wins $10K Danuta Gleed Literary Award for debut short fiction collection

Dunning receives the prize for her novel Annie Muktuk and Other Stories, a collection of short stories exploring identity, life and death.
Annie Muktuk and Other Stories is Norma Dunning's first published collection. (Norma Dunning/University of Alberta Press)

Edmonton-based Inuit author Norma Dunning is the winner of the 2018 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. The $10,000 prize is given to the best Canadian debut short fiction collection published in English.

Dunning receives the prize for Annie Muktuk and Other Stories, a collection of short stories exploring identity, life and death.

The Writers' Union of Canada made the announcement during the Canadian Writers' Summit on June 14, 2018.

This year's jury, comprised of writers Andrew J. Borkowski, Shree Ghatage and Doretta Lau, praised Annie Muktuk and Other Stories for its "poignant stories" that "evoke the silent and overt desires, aspirations, successes, failures and inner lives" of its many Inuit characters.

"The language is invigorating, the tone wry and the relationships playful and heartbreaking. Dunning crafts a landscape that is at once intimate and mythically vast. Tragedy and humour intertwine in spellbinding narratives that deliver raw emotion and an acute sense of humanity."

Dunning grew up in the southern parts of Canada, where she experienced a "silenced form of Aboriginality." Dunning's creative work, writing about her ancestors, keeps her connected to Inuit traditions.

The Danuta Gleed Literary Award was created in honour of Danuta Gleed, a writer whose short fiction won several awards before her death in December 1996. Her first collection of short fiction, One of the Chosen, was posthumously published.

The runners-up, Dawn Dumont for Glass Beads and David Huebert for Peninsula Sinking, will each receive $500.

The shortlist also included Camilla Grudova's The Doll's Alphabet and Lori McNulty's Life on Mars.

Last year's winner was Kris Bertin for Bad Things Happen. Other past winners include Heather O'Neill, Pasha Malla and David Bezmozgis.

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