CBC Literary Prizes

5 writers make the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize shortlist

Read the five works contending for $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and a writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The winner will be announced on April 29, 2021.
From left: Corinna Chong, Brooks McMullin, Miranda Morris, Ben Pitfield and Saeed Teebi. The five writers are shortlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize. (See individual photos below for credit)

Five writers have made the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize shortlist.

The finalists are:

The winner will be announced on April 29. They will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

The remaining four finalists will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.

All five finalists had their work published on CBC Books. You can read their stories by clicking the links above.

This year's finalists were selected by a jury comprised of Souvankham Thammavongsa, Craig Davidson and Lee Maracle. They will also select the winner.

The longlist was compiled by a team of writers and editors from across Canada. There were almost 3,000 English-language submissions.

The shortlist for the French-language competition has also been revealed. To read more, go to the Prix de la nouvelle Radio-Canada.

Last year's winner was Calgary writer Brenda Damen for her short story, Gibson. You can read the entire shortlist here.

If you're interested in other CBC Literary Prizes, the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize is open for submissions until May 31, 2021.

The 2022 CBC Short Story Prize will open in September and the 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January 2022.

Get to know the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize English-language finalists below.

Kids in Kindergarten by Corinna Chong

Corinna Chong teaches English and fine arts at Okanagan College in Kelowna, B.C. (Andrew Pulvermacher)

Corinna Chong received her MA in English and creative writing from the University of New Brunswick. Her first novel, Belinda's Rings, was published in 2013. Her reviews and short fiction have been published in magazines across Canada, including The Malahat Review, Room, Grain and The Humber Literary Review. She teaches English and fine arts at Okanagan College in Kelowna, B.C.

Why she wrote Kids in Kindergarten: "I had a daughter four years ago, and since going through the trials of conceiving, pregnancy and new motherhood, I've been really interested in exploring these themes in my writing. I think that miscarriages, while incredibly common, remain a kind of taboo subject. It wasn't until I was trying to conceive that I began to hear so many stories of women, some of whom I knew, who had suffered miscarriages without anyone knowing.

I think that miscarriages, while incredibly common, remain a kind of taboo subject. ​​​​​​

"I wanted to write a story that could navigate in an empathetic way the nuances of pregnancy loss and the struggle to talk about it. This story began with the first sentence: She said the ones whose mothers didn't really want them were always the best behaved. I thought about how this statement could be fairly innocuous or even funny without context, but might be gutting to someone desperate but unable to have children of her own. This was the genesis for a protagonist grieving a recent pregnancy loss in isolation against the backdrop of a Kindergarten classroom filled with other people's children."

Deville at Home by Brooks McMullin

Brooks McMullin is a university lecturer of literature and composition living in Prince Albert, Sask. (Mark Zulkoskey)

Brooks McMullin is a university lecturer of literature and composition, who writes short stories, novels and screenplays. He was a runner up in the 2012 CBC Short Story Prize, with Pax, and was a quarter-finalist in 2006 Zoetrope screenwriting contest for the feature-length script, Coal War.

Why he wrote Deville at Home"The story was taken and reworked from a chapter of a novel I shelved called The New Teachers. In the manuscript Wayne Deville is one of five new teachers who begins a teaching job in a northern Alberta town. All fail to fit in. Deville fails because he has PTSD, a veteran of duty in Bosnia, the Middle East and Somalia.

Deville fails because he has PTSD, a veteran of duty in Bosnia, the Middle East and Somalia.

"I have tutored college students, ex-military, and they have told me stories, and those stories have stayed with me, and helped to create Deville's experience."

Stump by Miranda Morris

Miranda Morris is a writer, illustrator and multi-instrumentalist currently based in Hamilton. (Submitted by Miranda Morris)

Miranda Morris is a writer, illustrator and multi-instrumentalist currently based in Hamilton. She grew up in the Georgian Bay woods north of Parry Sound, where she returned to quarantine following a year of playing trombone in a 12-piece funk band in New Orleans. After graduating Ryerson University's film production BFA program, specializing in screenwriting and production design, she split her time between Toronto and Louisiana for 10 years — working in film, riding Greyhound buses and doodling. She's seen a UFO and one time she danced with Bruce Springsteen in Moncton. She's now working on a collection of short stories.

The story became a meditation on the consequences of familial trauma and broken cultural bonds.

Why she wrote Stump"Stump grew from a mishmash of characters and narrative bits from my hometown — a small community built on the Seguin River logging trade. The main character in particular was loosely inspired by a real woman who was something of a cult figure to my friends and I in high school, and whose true tale contained elements too grisly to include. I suppose the story became a meditation on the consequences of familial trauma and broken cultural bonds."

Leaving Moonbeam by Ben Pitfield

Ben Pitfield is a writer, filmmaker and tree planter from Toronto. (Submitted by Ben Pitfield)

Ben Pitfield is a writer, filmmaker and tree planter from Toronto. He holds degrees in literature and business from the University of Rochester and has planted 750,000 trees in northern forests. He is a staff writer for the UK-based art journal Sepia and his poetry and short fiction have been published in journals in Canada and the U.S. He is currently at work on a novel, a thriller, set in the world of remote communities and bush camps.

Why he wrote Leaving Moonbeam"Three things were in my head when I wrote this story: the PC video games I played as a 10 year old and wishing I could play them now; how everyone seems to be running from something; and the ties that sometimes bind siblings with a significant age gap together in a quasi-parental relationship. Those, and a writing prompt from The Walrus asking for a story about the connection between humans and technology.

The setting came because the remoteness of it would be freeing for some people and suffocating for others.

"The setting came because the remoteness of it would be freeing for some people and suffocating for others. Because I've spent time in the Hudson Bay watershed in the summers and it is a beautiful part of the country, serially underrated (and serially buggy)."

Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi

Saeed Teebi is a writer and lawyer based in Toronto. (Jeff Clifford)

Saeed Teebi is a writer and lawyer based in Toronto. He was born to Palestinian parents in Kuwait, and, after some time in the US, has lived in Canada since 1993. His writing frequently engages the immigrant experience and his Palestinian background. He is currently completing a collection of short stories.

I wanted to explore the feeling of inauthenticity that is often part of immigrant consciousness, particularly in diasporas.

Why he wrote Her First Palestinian"I wanted to explore the feeling of inauthenticity that is often part of immigrant consciousness, particularly in diasporas. I was also attracted to the idea that someone could take up an activist cause (especially a difficult cause) so completely that it consumes much of their life. It's not uncommon. The mingling of those two concepts is what created the story."

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now