Nfld. & Labrador

Grant named Winterset Award winner

St. John's writer Jessica Grant has won the Winterset Award, Newfoundland and Labrador's key literary prize, besting two stars on the national publishing scene.

St. John's writer Jessica Grant has won the Winterset Award, Newfoundland and Labrador's key literary prize, besting two stars on the national publishing scene.

Grant's debut novel, Come, Thou Tortoise (Knopf), was honoured Thursday at a ceremony at Government House in St. John's.

She won over Michael Crummey and Lisa Moore, both of whom have earned national and international accolades for their work.

Grant was overcome when she was announced as the winner.

"I don't know what to say," she said, struggling to gather her words.

"When I realized that my book was going to be with Michael's and Lisa's on the nomination list, if you told me that a year ago, I would not have believed it. I still can't believe it — I admire them so much."

Come, Thou Tortoise is about a woman who moves from Oregon to her old family home in St. John's. Much of the novel is told from the perspective of a pet tortoise named Winnifred.

Crummey, who this month won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Canada and the Caribbean, was nominated for his novel Galore (Doubleday Canada), a multi-generational story of rural Newfoundland families.

Moore, a two-time finalist for the Giller Prize, was nominated for February (Anansi), which tells the story of a family torn asunder by the 1982 sinking of the oil rig Ocean Ranger.

In an acceptance speech, Grant thanked Toronto journalist Richard Gwyn, who founded the Winterset Award in honour of his late wife, acclaimed writer Sandra Gwyn, and the name of her childhood home in St. John's.

Crummey has won the Winterset prize once before, for his debut novel River Thieves. Other previous winners include Joan Clarke, Kenneth J. Harvey and Michael Winter.

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