CBC Literary Prizes

"Charity's Test" by Ruth Dyck Fehderau

Ruth Dyck Fehderau has made the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for "Charity's Test".

2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Ruth Dyck Fehderau teaches creative writing and English literature at the University of Alberta. (David Dyck Fehderau)

Ruth Dyck Fehderau has made the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for "Charity's Test".

About Ruth

Ruth Dyck Fehderau teaches creative writing and English literature at the University of Alberta for a few months of each year and the rest of the time she travels and writes. Her work has been published in literary journals and anthologies around the world and she has won awards for writing, teaching and activism. The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee: Stories of Diabetes and the James Bay Cree, a book she wrote with 27 Cree storytellers, will be released this fall. She is currently working on a novel and on a second nonfiction book with the James Bay Cree of northern Quebec. She is based in Edmonton, Alta.  

Entry in five-ish words

"Death and birth in a Kenyan community."

The story's source of inspiration

"I attended the Post-test Club in 2007 and I spent time with some of the people on whose experiences this story is based and who gave permission for me to tell the story. (The Post-test Club was the actual name of the club, but the names of the people and of the organization — here called Disability Action Network — were changed for the story, as were a few other identifying details.)"

First lines

"Charity tucked the blanket around her co-wife's shoulders, stroked her cheek, then she anchored her crutch under an arm and stepped out into their tiny courtyard. It would not be long now. The death-rattle was shaking her co-wife's breath as it had done their husband's the hour before he died.

"The air tasted of burning plastic. Across Kibera slum, the afternoon fires had been lit. Mechanically, Charity gripped the grass broom and swept the shack step, brushing the litter into the gutter. She wiped her hand on her skirt and fingered her daughter's school uniform hanging on the clothesline. Dry. She unpinned it for Marion to wear in the morning. She opened her phone, texted Montezuma Monalisa Funeral Parlour on Mbagathi Way, got arrangements underway, and paid by mpesa. She refilled the water dish for Auntie, Marion's cat rescued from the rubbish. Finally, she stood still, avoiding hot tin walls on all sides of the courtyard, and laid a hand on her belly. Hard to know if what she felt there was another child or the Sickness. Better the Sickness, really."

About the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have an opportunity to attend a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have their story published on CBC Books and in Air Canada enRoute magazine. Four finalists will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their story published on CBC Books

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