CBC Literary Prizes

B.C. writer and professor Corinna Chong wins 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Corinna Chong will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre. Read her winning story, Kids in Kindergarten, now.
Corinna Chong teaches English and fine arts at Okanagan College in Kelowna, B.C. (Andrew Pulvermacher)

Corinna Chong has won the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize for Kids in Kindergarten

She will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and will also receive a writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Chong's winning story was published on CBC Books. You can read Kids in Kindergarten here.

"Kids in Kindergarten is a story about the quietly devastating things we don't say out loud. Small, seemingly meaningless words like 'it' and 'this' are made to amplify and carry power so beautifully. The writer has a wonderful ear for sound and speech — a sense for what a real voice can do on the page, filling in character, and creating talk that reveals and feels so true to life. Every character in a scene is never made to be minor no matter how little they say or do. Sharply observed, blunt, at times funny, unflinching, indelible. You won't mind at all that the last line of the story will break your heart over and over again in just the right place," the jury said in a statement.

The 2021 CBC Short Story jurors were Souvankham Thammavongsa, Craig Davidson and Lee Maracle.

Chong's story was selected from nearly 3,000 entries.

Chong, originally from Calgary, currently lives in Kelowna, B.C. and teaches English and fine arts at Okanagan College.

She wrote Kids in Kindergarten as she wanted to write a story that could navigate in an empathetic way the nuances of pregnancy loss and the struggle to talk about it.

"One of the things I'm always trying to do when I write is offer a moment of truth or something that readers can really identify with, even if they haven't had that experience," Chong said in an interview with CBC Books

"I'm floored that Kids in Kindergarten was chosen among so many brilliant pieces as the winner of the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize. What an incredible honour! I found it challenging to write about the subject of pregnancy loss with the sensitivity it deserves, and I'm gratified to know that the story resonated with the jury."

CBC Short Story Prize finalist, Corinna Chong, speaks to Chris Walker on CBC Daybreak South. 6:23

The four finalists for the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize are Brooks McMullin of Prince Albert, Sask., for Deville at Home, Miranda Morris of Hamilton for Stump, Ben Pitfield of Toronto for Leaving Moonbeam and Saeed Teebi of Toronto for Her First Palestinian.

They will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.

The jury selected the shortlist from a longlist of 33 writers that was compiled by a team of writers and editors from across Canada

Last year's winner was Calgary writer Brenda Damen for her short story, Gibson

The CBC Literary Prizes have been recognizing Canadian writers since 1979. Past winners include Michael OndaatjeCarol ShieldsMichael Winter and Frances Itani.​

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.

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