Literary Prizes·CBC Literary Prizes

Northwest and Back by Kathleen May

Kathleen May has made the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Northwest and Back.

2020 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Kathleen May is a Muskoka-based writer, crisis counsellor and activist. (Submitted by Kathleen May)

Kathleen May has made the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Northwest and Back.

The shortlist will be announced on April 15. The winner will be announced on April 22.

About Kathleen

For Kathleen May, writing is a focus and a fulcrum. As an author, crisis counsellor, speaker, and activist, a desire to shape and share language informs everything she does. She was shortlisted for the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize and won Best Novel at the Muskoka Novel Marathon in 2018. Kathleen finds joy in solo backpacking, volunteering with survivors, and writing. She weaves stories of complex female characters in worlds both familiar and foreign. She is currently working on her tiny house and envisions starting a women's land co-operative in Muskoka, where she can exist harmoniously in nature and write.

Entry in five-ish words

At the end, we return.

The story's source of inspiration

"Northwest and Back is inspired by our inevitable arrival at death — and, separately, the conclusion of our lives. We grow up confident that we will all die, but we know so little else. I wanted to explore the famous 'life review' — when we die, what passes before our eyes? Do the dots finally connect? Was that life a clear path, or directionless meandering? What matters?"

First lines

I die in the Northwest Territories.

It seems an absurd, not-here kind of place in which to die. How can a direction also be a location? If you're in it, aren't you simply "here?" If not, then it begs a comparison, but to what?

Ontario, I suspect.

That's where I live; or rather, where I lived. While it strikes me as peculiar to die in a place you never lived, it does makes me think fondly of Ontario – I lived there but I didn't die there. At least it didn't do that to me.

About the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize

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.

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