CBC Literary Prizes

Meet the 2023 CBC Short Story Prize readers

These writers and editors from across Canada determined the longlist for the 2023 CBC Short Story Prize!

These writers and editors determined the longlist for the 2023 CBC Short Story Prize

A collage of 12 faces.
These writers and editors from across Canada determined the longlist for the 2023 CBC Short Story Prize. (See below for individual photo credits)

Every year, CBC Books enlists the help of established writers and editors from across Canada to read the thousands of entries submitted to our prizes.

Our readers compile the longlist, which is given to the jury. You can meet the readers for the 2023 CBC Short Story Prize below.

The jury for the 2023 CBC Short Story Prize, comprised of Kim Fu, Norma Dunning and Steven Price, then selects the shortlist and the eventual winner from the longlisted selections. 

The CBC Short Story Prize longlist will be unveiled on April 5, so make sure to come back to see who made it on the list. The shortlist will be announced on April 12 and then the winner will be revealed on April 18.

The CBC Short Story Prize winner will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point and have their work published on CBC Books.

Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and will have their work published on CBC Books.

The 2023 CBC Poetry Prize is currently accepting submissions and the 2024 CBC Short Story Prize will open in September. 

Here are the 12 writers who served as readers for the 2023 CBC Short Story Prize.

Shashi Bhat

The book's author, a woman with long brown hair wearing a black sweater and the book cover featuring the book title in yellow letters over sinuous blue lines.
The Most Precious Substance on Earth is a novel by Shashi Bhat. (Olivia Ali, McClelland & Stewart)

Shashi Bhat is the author of the novels The Most Precious Substance on Earth, which was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction, and The Family Took Shape, which was a finalist for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. Her fiction has won the Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize and been shortlisted for a National Magazine Award and the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Her stories have appeared in publications across Canada, including Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Stories. Bhat is the editor-in-chief of Event magazine and teaches creative writing at Douglas College. 

The Most Precious Substance on Earth, is a coming-of-age take about Nina, a present-day high school teacher. When she was 14, she preferred to keep quiet about quite a few things, such as her crush on her English teacher, her mother's attempts to match her up with local Halifax Indian boys, her best friend pulling away and her worried father reciting Hindu prayers outside her bedroom door. She also won't talk about a life-changing incident in high school. Over the years, she discovers that the past is never far behind her.

LISTEN | Shashi Bhat discusses The Most Precious Substance on Earth with Shelagh Rogers:
Shashi Bhat talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest novel, The Most Precious Substance on Earth.

Andre Fenton

The book's author, a man wearing a knitted green scarf and a black jacket and the book cover featuring the silhouettes of two characters on a cliff at dusk.
The Summer Between Us is a YA novel by Andre Fenton. (Submitted by Andre Fenton, Formac)

Andre Fenton is an award-winning African Nova Scotian author, spoken-word artist and arts educator who has represented Halifax at seven national poetry festivals across Canada. He is an author of three YA novels, Worthy of Love, which won bronze in The Coast Best of, Annaka, which was a finalist for the 2021 Ann Connor Brimer Award and his latest, The Summer Between Us. He has facilitated workshops at over 30 schools across Nova Scotia helping young writers and performers develop their craft. Fenton is based in Halifax. 

The Summer Between Us is a coming-of-age story that follows 18-year-old Adrian Carter as he graduates from high school and confronts difficult decisions about his future, all while dealing with the stress and pressure he feels to please those closest to him. As Adrian navigates the emotional highs and lows of the summer between graduation and the post-secondary future, he negotiates the difficulties of forging a path in life against others' expectations. The book is recommended for ages 13-18.

LISTEN | Andre Fenton discusses The Summer Between Us
The Halifax writer's latest book continues the coming-of-age story of Adrian Carter, who is 18 now and wrestling with some big decisions about what to do next now that high school is over and his whole life stretches in front of him. Andre Fenton tells us more.

Genki Ferguson

A book cover featuring a woman's side silhouette and the book's author, a black and white photograph of a man wearing a shirt over a t-shirt.
Satellite Love is a novel by Genki Ferguson. (McClelland & Stewart, genkiferguson.com)

Genki Ferguson was born in New Brunswick to a family of writers and grew up in Calgary. He spent much of his childhood in the subtropical island of Kyushu, Japan, where his mother's family still resides. Satellite Love is his first book and was on the Canada Reads 2022 longlist. Genki was also named one of the 2022 Writers to Watch by CBC Books.

The novel Satellite Love is set in a city in Japan in 1999. Anna is a lonely teenager who turns to stargazing for comfort and escape. But when the Low Earth Orbit satellite (aka LEO) returns Anna's gaze and comes down to earth as Leo, what follows is an unconventional story about love, loneliness and human connection.

LISTEN | Genki Ferguson discusses Satellite Love on The Next Chapter
Genki Ferguson talks to Shelagh Rogers about his novel, Satellite Love.

Tasnuva Hayden

The book's author, a woman with her dark hair tied wearing a coral sweater and the book cover featuring drawings of an orchid and a stag constellations.
Tasnuva Hayden is the author of An Orchid Astronomy. (Eva Gauld, University of Calgary Press)

Tasnuva Hayden is a writer of Bengali descent based in Calgary. She is the fiction editor for filling Station, a Canadian experimental literary magazine. Her work has appeared in New Forum, Nōd Magazine, J'aipur Journal, Anti-Lang, carte blanche, Qwerty and more.

An Orchid Astronomy is an experimental poetry collection that follows Sophie, who is living in the Norwegian north as climate change takes hold. The ice is melting, the animals are dying and Sophie's mother is dead. The experimental poetry of An Orchid Astronomy wrestles with the grief we feel for the loss of loved ones and the changing world.

Deborah Hemming

A green book cover featuring a Greek statue head with hair made of flowers and the book's author, a woman with light brown hair wearing a white T-shirt.
Goddess is a book by Deborah Hemming. (House of Anansi Press)

Deborah Hemming is the author of two novels, Goddess and Throw Down Your Shadows, which was a finalist for a 2021 ReLit Award. She studied English at McGill University and the University of King's College, and Information Studies at Dalhousie University. She lives in Wolfville, N.S.

In Goddess, a chance encounter brings book author Agnes Oliver into wellness guru Geia Stone's orbit. Soon, Agnes is invited to one of Geia's exclusive wellness retreats on a Greek Island. There, Agnes slowly realizes all is not as it seems. The other guests seem entranced by Geia. When Agnes figures out who Geia really is, she sets off on a mission to protect the other women from an unwanted fate. 

Glen Huser

A book cover with the title in front a background watermark photo of a man and the book's author, a man with white hair wearing glasses and a black sweater.
Burning the Night is a novel by Glen Huser. (NeWest Press, submitted by Glen Huser)

Glen Huser began his career as a teacher and school librarian in Edmonton before going on to work as a lecturer for many years at the University of Alberta and University of British Columbia. His first novel, Grace Lake, was shortlisted for the 1992 W.H. Smith Books in Canada First Novel Award, and he is also the author of the Governor General's Literary Award-winning StitchesSkinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen. His most recent novel, Burning the Night, won the City of Edmonton Book Award in 2022. He lives in Vancouver.

Burning the Night follows Curtis, a man from small-town Alberta who travels to Edmonton to obtain a teaching degree and forms a close bond with his elderly Aunt Harriet. Through reading the diary Harriet's intended husband Philip kept before his death during World War One, Curtis begins to examine parallels to his own life — including his desire to be an artist and his awakening as a gay man.

LISTEN | Glen Huser wins 2022 City of Edmonton Book Prize: 
We talk to Glen about his book Burning the Night, and hear how his struggle with sexuality inspired the novel.

Jeremy John

The author of the book, a bald man wearing glasses and a red dress shirt with a black waistcoat and the book cover with the title in front of an orange background
The Strange Grave of Mikey Dunbar and Other Stories to Make You Poop Your Pants is a collection of short stories by Jeremy John. (Maddy Dunton, Dundurn Press)

Jeremy John is the author of two short story collections: Robert's Hill (or The Time I Pooped My Snowsuit) and Other Christmas Stories and The Strange Grave of Mikey Dunbar: and other stories to make you poop your pants. John lives with his wife and kids in Sudbury, Ont.

The Strange Grave of Mikey Dunbar is a collection of short, spooky stories. John takes you on a frightening trip to the past, where Wild West criminals meet the hangman and brave knights battle monsters in the forest, through to today, where young vampires find victims through dating apps and spirits possess smart speakers.

LISTEN | Jeremy John likes to tell ghost stories: 
Halloween is just around the corner - and if you're looking for some spooky stories to read with your kids, a Sudbury author has just the ticket. Jeremy John joined Jonathan in studio to tell him about "The Strange Grave of Mikey Dunbar."

S. C. Lalli

The book's author, a woman with dark hair wearing a black turtleneck sweater and a book cover with the title written in front of a nighttime city background.
Are You Sara? is a novel by S. C. Lalli. (Ian Redd, HarperCollins)

S. C. Lalli is a Punjabi and Bengali romance fiction author based in Vancouver. She's written the novels A Holly Jolly Diwali, Serena Singh Flips the Script, Grown-Up Pose and The Matchmaker's List under her full name Sonya Lalli. Her books have been spotlighted in publications including Entertainment Weekly, NPR, the Washington Post, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. Lalli has worked in law, legal journalism and book publishing.

The thriller Are You Sara? revolves around a case of mistaken identity. When two women, each named Sara, get into separate rideshares one fateful night, one of them is murdered. But when the surviving Sara realizes that she might have actually been the target, it sets off a mystery involving race, class and ambition. 

Jamie Chai Yun Liew

The book's author, a woman with long dark hair wearing glasses and the book cover featuring a drawing of a long haired woman running towards dandelions.
Dandelion is a book by Jamie Chai Yun Liew. (Kenya-Jade Pinto, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Jamie Chai Yun Liew is a lawyer and law professor based in Ottawa. Dandelion is her first novel and won her the Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award from the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop. She is a lawyer and professor specializing in immigration, refugee and citizenship law and is the creator of the podcast Migration Conversations

Dandelion is a novel about family secrets, migration, isolation, motherhood and mental illness. When Lily was a child, her mother, Swee Hua, walked away from the family and was never heard from again. After becoming a new mother herself, Lily is obsessed with discovering what happened to Swee Hua. She recalls growing up in a British Columbia mining town where there were only a handful of Asian families and how Swee Hua longed to return to Brunei. Eventually, a clue leads Lily to southeast Asia to find out the truth about her mother. 

LISTEN |  Jamie Chai Yun Liew on turning her experience in law into fiction:

June Park

Portrait of an Asian woman with her hair tied up and the book cover with a woman in traditional garments jumping over a tree
June Park is a writer and editor based in Montreal. (Submitted by June Park)

June Park is a writer, editor, and artists' advisor born in Korea and now based in Montreal. She studied literature at the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto in addition to cultural arts management. She has been writing stories and poetry from an early age and is currently developing a work of historical fiction for which she was awarded the 2022 Max Margles Prize for Fiction from the Quebec Writers Federation. 

Her work in progress, What Beauty Remains is the story of a woman and her memories as a girl imprisoned and exploited by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Pacific War. In an attempt to find resolution, she grapples with the difficulties of memory, the pains of her broken body, and the counter-narratives and accounts of personal and political history.

Mark Paterson

The book's author, a man with grey hair wearing glasses and a blue shirt and the book cover featuring a dinosaur on the roof of a school building
Dreamers and Misfits of Montclair is a novel by Mark Paterson. (Anika Paterson, Exile Editions)

Mark Paterson is a writer from Lorraine, Que. He is the author of the short story collections Dreamers and Misfits of Montclair, A Finely Tuned Apathy Machine and Other People's Showers. His work has won Geist's Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest, the 3Macs carte blanche Prize and the Atwater Library's 150 Words for 150 Years contest. In 2020, his story To Disappear Around Here was named runner-up for The Puritan's Thomas Morton Prize.

Dreamers and Misfits of Montclair is an exploration of suburbia's little wild spaces, and the hearts and minds of its inhabitants. Paterson introduces the town of Montclair, a fictional yet familiar suburb of Montreal. At the heart of these short stories, and with his distinctive humour and emotion, he celebrates the refusal of the monotonous, and the struggle for individuality in a bastion of boredom and conformity. 

Dan K. Woo

A book cover featuring two babies coming out of flowers and the book's author, a man with dark hair wearing a beige suit.
Taobao is a book by Dan K. Woo. (Wolsak & Wynn, Gong Shoupeng/Mengsha Studio)

Dan K. Woo is the author of Learning How to Love China, which won the 2018 Ken Klonsky Award. His writing has appeared in publications such as the South China Morning Post, Quill & Quire, China Daily USA and elsewhere. Woo lives in Toronto.

In his collection of short stories, Dan K. Woo introduces a fascinating cast of characters from different regions of China, from rural villages to bustling cities. Taobao features the stories of young people looking for love, meaning and happiness in a country that is often misunderstood by North America. 

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