Jen Neale reads from her winning work in Toronto Wednesday. Writers' Trust of Canada


A 28-year-old emerging writer from Vancouver has won the $5,000 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for her short-story Elk-Headed Man. 

Jen Neale was named winner Wednesday at an event in Toronto by the Writers' Trust of Canada.

The prize recognizes writers under the age of 35 who are unpublished in book form. The award has a reputation for tapping some of Canada’s finest writers, including novelist Alyssa York, who presented the prize.

"Elk-Headed Man has it all: pure imaginative power, sharp humour, emotional honesty and real insight," the jury said in its citation.

"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."  

Elk-Headed Man includes characters from Neale’s  novel-in-progress. Neale is working toward an MFA in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, and is the executive editor in charge of circulation and promotion at PRISM international.

Two other finalists received $1000. They are:

  • Dina Del Bucchia, of Vancouver for Under the 'I.’'
  • Kathy Friedman, of Toronto for At the Bottom of the Garden.