5 writers make the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize shortlist
Five writers have made the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize shortlist.
The finalists are:
- Kids in Kindergarten by Corinna Chong (Kelowna, B.C.)
- Deville at Home by Brooks McMullin (Prince Albert, Sask.)
- Stump by Miranda Morris (Hamilton)
- Leaving Moonbeam by Ben Pitfield (Toronto)
- Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi (Toronto)
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 shortlist for the French-language competition has also been revealed. To read more, go to the Prix de la nouvelle Radio-Canada.
Get to know the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize English-language finalists below.
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."
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."
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."
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)."
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."