CBC Literary Prizes

The Kusi by Jean McNeil

Jean McNeil has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for The Kusi.

2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Jean McNeil is a writer from Cape Breton, N.S., who spends part of the year living in Kenya. (Diego Ferrari)

Jean McNeil has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for The Kusi.

About Jean

Jean McNeil is from Cape Breton, N.S. Her memoir about living and working in Antarctica, Ice Diaries, won the 2016 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival Grand Prize. She lives in coastal Kenya, where The Kusi is set, for part of the year. The Swahili coast of East Africa is also the inspiration for her novel The Dhow House. She is a trained safari guide and spends her time trying to distinguish between the calls of red-billed and the yellow-billed oxpecker, which is more important than you might think.

Entry in five-ish words

Tourism and terrorism in Kenya.

The story's source of inspiration

"I am always interested in what is just beneath the skin of the apparent reality of a place. The down season in resort communities and beach towns is often melancholy, but also when the real character of the place emerges. Lately in Kenya, coastal tourism has been badly hit by on-going security issues in nearby Somalia. Also, there is a largely unreported low-level military operation in the border regions against Al-Shabaab, mounted from Kenya. The Kusi explores some of these elements."

First lines

"August brings a brief heyday in the tourist season. Business has been dismal of late, thanks to the attacks near the border. The government tries to sit on the news, and no foreigners are killed, but the US State Department and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office warn their citizens, and this is all that is required."

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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