Halifax writer Kris Bertin has won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award.

Bertin was awarded the $10,000 grand prize for his debut Bad Things Happen (Biblioasis) at the OnWords Conference in Vancouver on Saturday night.

The short story collection centres around a variety of characters — professors, janitors, webcam models, small-time criminals — in between pivotal stages of their lives.

Bertin offers an introduction to the individuals at the moment before everything within their world changes — for better or for worse.

Short fiction honoured

Now in its 20th year, the Danuta Gleed Award recognizes the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in English. The prize was named for the late Danuta Gleed, whose short fiction won several awards before her death in December 1996.

Runner-up prizes of $500 apiece were awarded to Kerry Lee Powell for Willem de Kooning's Paintbrush (HarperCollins) and Laura Trunkey for Double Dutch (Astoria).

Lyse Champagne for The Light that Remains (Enfield & Wizenty) and Andre Narbonne for Twelve Miles to Midnight (Black Moss Press) were the other finalists.

This year's prize jury included authors Caroline Adderson, Judy Fong Bates and David Bergen.

'Tough and bloodied and pure'

They said the stories in Bad Things Happen "come at you like the rounds of a heavyweight match."

"They are tough and bloodied and pure. And yet, beneath the surface there is revealed a surprising softness, as when a mother gathers her damaged adult son to her chest and says, 'It's alright, and it's all over,"' the jury wrote in its citation.

"Bertin knows place and he knows language and he knows his characters — the garbage collectors, the overweight landlords, the petty thieves. And then, oh my, there are the children. What a beautiful book."