CBC Literary Prizes

Guns over China by Michael Hess

Michael Hess has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Guns over China.

2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Michael Hess is a Toronto-based writer. (Andrew Smith)

Michael Hess has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Guns over China.

About Michael

Michael Hess is a writer who lives in Toronto, Ont. He has regularly published in journals such as the Malahat Review, Grain and the Dalhousie Review. His work has appeared in three anthologies. Most recently, his essay What Do You Wear to a Nudist Colony? was included in The Best Gay Stories 2016. He has twice been a finalist for the Iowa Review Awards in the nonfiction category. He is currently nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Post Road for his essay James Dean Posters on the Wall. His first novel, Truck-stop Troubadours, is on submission to publishers.

Entry in five-ish words

A man inherits the good china.

The story's source of inspiration

"The last time I went home to visit my parents, they were giving away the guns and the china. My brother got the guns and I got the china. Something about the transaction didn't sit right with me. What was it?"

First lines

"My parents run guns. They hop in a used Taurus with a stack of maps and a roll of Tums and two cell phones — dad's flip, mom's 'i' — and drive Illinois to California. They cross one state line after another. I do not know if they drive Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California or if they drive Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California or if they travel a different route altogether. I do know it is not only guns they run. They also transport switchblade knives, ballistic knives, butterfly knives, Bowie knives in smooth leather sheaths, numb chucks, brass knuckles, throwing stars, dirks, a ball and chain, a whip chain, and other weapons that I do not know the names for. Black-market loot pinched from perps with dirty fingernails and bad teeth or no teeth and values that skew. Dad picks up the perps. He is a county cop. Was."

About the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have their story published on CBC Books and will have the opportunity to attend a 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 story published on CBC Books.

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