A Letter to Big Words by Nuo Yang
2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist
Nuo Yang has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for A Letter to Big Words.
The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 24. The winner will be announced on Oct. 1.
Born and raised in mainland China, Nuo Yang now lives in Winnipeg, where she has finally found the courage to build a room of her own for writing. Her prose explores her expanding self-identity in a new cultural milieu, with a view to illuminating common humanity at the intersection of East and West. Writing allows her to achieve inner peace and to contribute to peace in the bigger world.
Entry in five-ish words
"In defence of big words."
The story's source of inspiration
"As a non-native English speaker, I've struggled with the use of big words in speech and writing. It's frustrating when my most sincere and humble intent is called into question simply because of the presence of so-called fancy words in my communication. So I decided to write an essay to highlight this little discussed language barrier faced by many immigrants to Canada."
Dear Big Words:
I'm re-evaluating our relationship. I haven't made a splash, not even a ripple, in the literary world since dedicating myself to writing. The advice given to me repeatedly has been to keep my distance from you.
I was smitten with you at first sight — small surprise given my cultural background. I'm an immigrant from China where your cousins are treated royally, and where writers proudly display their sophisticated vocabulary as a mark of distinction. The Chinese accord high esteem to the writing that makes the reader toil fruitfully. Done right, dense diction can mirror life's complex nature in a constructive way besides teaching perseverance.
The winner of the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.