Aimee Wall, Carmella Gray-Cosgrove & Claire Wilkshire shortlisted for 2021 BMO Winterset Award

Aimee Wall's We, Jane, Carmella Gray-Cosgrove's Nowadays and Lonelier and Claire Wilkshire's The Love Olympics are shortlisted for the $12,500 prize, which celebrates writing from Newfoundland and Labrador.

$12,500 prize celebrates writing from Newfoundland and Labrador

From left to right: Aimee Wall, Carmella Gray-Cosgrove and Claire Wilkshire are finalists for the 2021 BMO Winterset Award. (Richmond Lam, David Mandville, Breakwater Books)

Aimee Wall's We, Jane, Carmella Gray-Cosgrove's Nowadays and Lonelier and Claire Wilkshire's The Love Olympics are finalists for the $12,500 BMO Winterset Award, which celebrates literature from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Jury members read 35 books across fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama and children's books to select a longlist of six books, which has been whittled down to a shortlist of three.

"Choosing a shortlist was agonizing," said author Eva Crocker, who won the 2020 prize for her novel All I Ask and was a judge this year. 

"But I'm thrilled to be able to recognize the exceptionally evocative and powerful prose between the covers of these three books."

Crocker was joined on the jury panel by actor Petrina Bromley and Mi'Kmaq painter Nelson White.

Aimee Wall's debut novel We, Jane tells the story of a young woman named Marthe, who travels from Montreal to a small island town at the behest of an older woman. Marthe is compelled to continue the work of an underground group of women, all known as "Jane," who provide safe abortions.

We, Jane was longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Wall has also translated two of Quebec author Vickie Gendreau's novels, Testament and Drama Queens.

Carmella Gray-Cosgrove's short story collection Nowadays and Lonelier is also a debut book. Her characters search for connection and meaning in complicated circumstances — a ballet dancer deals with addiction in her family, a young girl discovers her sexuality in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and a lover finds revenge, unexpectedly, in Egypt. 

Gray-Cosgrove's fiction has also been published in Prism International, Broken Pencil, Freefall Magazine, the Antigonish Review and other places.

Claire Wilkshire's The Love Olympics is a collection of 11 stories set in St. John's. The book explores love in its many forms, beginning with Mothers — a witty story about dropping your kid off at university and trying to keep up with their lives as not-quite adults. In some of the other stories, old crushes are reignited, decades-long friendships are celebrated and a house reviews its residents.

Wilkshire is an editor, writer, teacher and translator. She previously published a novel, Maxine, in 2013. She's also a senior editor at Breakwater Books.

The three finalists will give readings of their work at The Rooms Theatre on March 16, 2022. The winner, who will receive $12,500, will be announced the next day.

The other two finalists will each receive $3,000.

"Each book was a revelation and the more I read the more difficult decisions became," said juror Nelson White in a press release.

"I shouldn't be surprised at the level of talent in this province, yet I continually found myself astounded by the characters and stories these authors introduced to me. I am grateful for the discovery."

The BMO Winterset Award is administered by ArtsNL, a provincial agency that supports the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador through grants to artists, organizations and schools.

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