St. John's writer Eva Crocker wins 2020 BMO Winterset Award for debut novel All I Ask

The $12,500 award annually recognizes the best book in any genre by a writer from Newfoundland and Labrador.

The $12,500 award annually recognizes the best book in any genre by a writer from Newfoundland and Labrador

All I Ask is a novel by Eva Crocker. (House of Anansi Press, Steve Crocker)

St. John's writer Eva Crocker has won the 2020 BMO Winterset Award for her debut novel All I Ask.

The $12,500 award annually recognizes the best book in any genre by a writer from Newfoundland and Labrador.

All I Ask follows Stacey, a 20-something in St. John's who wakes up one morning to the police at her door searching for "illegal digital material." In the aftermath, Stacey and her group of friends search for fulfilment while dealing with the day-to-day uncertainty of modern life. 

All I Ask was on the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

Crocker is also the author of the short story collection Barrelling ForwardCBC Books named her a writer to watch in 2020.

Crocker told CBC Books in 2020 that the novel was inspired by an incident that happened in her own life.

"I started working on the book in 2017, after this unpleasant experience I had. A group of police officers — all male — forced entry into my home in St. John's, very early in the morning. They told me I was under arrest for transmission of child pornography. Pretty quickly into the incident, they realized that I wasn't the person that they were looking for," she said.

"It was a disturbing experience. But I'm sure it would have been much worse for me if I weren't a white woman, if English weren't my first language, if I had kids there with me. But it was so scary and disturbing. 

"That made me start thinking a lot about privacy and our digital mirror image. How much of ourselves is captured in that? What does it feel like to not have control over the parts of yourself that you show to the world?"

St. John's-based writer Eva Crocker shares the inspiration behind her debut novel All I Ask. 11:49

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the award was given to Crocker virtually.

"I am so, so thrilled to have been the recipient of this year's Winterset honour. It's a huge honour," she said in her acceptance speech. "I think there were a ton of incredible books that came out this year in the province. I am very, very grateful to jurors and the Newfoundland Arts Council for their support of my work."

Twenty-three books were submitted for consideration this year.

The other finalists for the 2020 prize were Bridget Canning for the novel Some People's Children and Andrea Procter for the nonfiction book A Long Journey: Residential Schools in Labrador.

The prize was judged by Megan Gail Coles, Jamie Fitzpatrick and Shannon Webb-Campbell.

Last year's winner was Coles, for her novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club.

The award has been given out annually since 2000. Other past winners include Joel Thomas Hynes, Kathleen Winter and Michael Crummey.

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