Back to Where You Came From by Andrea Gunraj
2020 CBC Short Story Prize longlist
Andrea Gunraj has made the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Back to Where You Came From.
The shortlist will be announced on April 15. The winner will be announced on April 22.
Andrea Gunraj is author of The Lost Sister and The Sudden Disappearance of Seetha. She has also contributed to nonfiction works such as Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity. She loves writing and reading stories about racialized people who come together and make unexpected connections. Beyond writing, she's passionate about working with diverse communities for social change and nonprofit leadership. She works at the Canadian Women's Foundation and lives in Toronto.
Entry in five-ish words
Hate mail uncovers cousin's baggage.
The story's source of inspiration
"News stories about hate pop up on my phone all the time — people receiving awful messages and getting targeted in public spaces. The incidents get reported in a way that can make you forget those who are harmed are actually whole people with their own histories and relationships and human baggage. (That's why 'say their names' campaigns are important.) I wonder about how an experience of brash, 'in-your-face' discrimination might stir up all kinds of unexpected reactions and memories. In this story, I thought about what hate mail might do to an overachieving young woman who feels isolated in a new town. And I made sure it included cousins, because I don't think there are enough stories about cousins out there."
This was a nice place before you came, read the inky print penned by a jittery hand. The paper was folded in half and stabbed to the door with a push pin.Olena found it on the way out of her apartment.
She peered down the hallway. There were no steps or jiggling knobs at 6:15 a.m. in a building occupied by retirees and widowers. She re-folded the note on its crease, kicked off her boots and walked back inside, setting the paper on her coffee table. She pulled her cellphone from her pocket. The screen was bright and stung her eyes. She scrolled for Penny but instead of tapping the call button, she tucked the phone away again.
The winner of the 2020 CBC Short Story 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 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.