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  • The Journey Prize Stories 22
  • Written by Various
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780771043451
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The Journey Prize Stories 22

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The Best of Canada's New Writers

Written by VariousAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Various
Selected by Pasha MallaAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Pasha Malla, Joan ThomasAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Joan Thomas and Alissa YorkAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Alissa York


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On Sale: September 28, 2010
Pages: 272 | ISBN: 978-0-7710-4345-1
Published by : McClelland & Stewart McClelland & Stewart
The Journey Prize Stories 22 Cover

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Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents


Discover the next generation of great Canadian writers with this highly acclaimed annual anthology.

For more than two decades, The Journey Prize Stories has been presenting the best short stories published each year by some of Canada's most exciting up-and-coming new writers. Previous contributors — including such now well-known, bestselling writers as Yann Martel, Elizabeth Hay, Michael Crummey, Annabel Lyon, Lisa Moore, Heather O'Neill, Pasha Malla, Timothy Taylor, M.G. Vassanji, and Alissa York — have gone on to win prestigious literary awards and honours, including the Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Governor General's Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and CBC's Canada Reads competition.

The stories included in the anthology are contenders for the $10,000 Journey Prize, which is made possible by Pulitzer Prize-winning author James A. Michener's donation of Canadian royalties from his novel Journey. The winner will be announced in fall 2010.


ALISSA YORK: There’s so much to say about the jurying process. It was an intense, immersive experience, reading and evaluating all those diverse narratives; at times my mind swam with characters and settings, images and events. In the end, though, I believe we all zeroed in on those stories that really stayed with us – the ones that not only moved into our hearts and minds, but stuck around to unpack.
JOAN THOMAS: When you think about it, all we read was the equivalent in pages of two or three novels – and yet there were all those separate imagined worlds to enter. The writer of a short story has so few pages to set up the rules of the game and then play it out. I found I had to do my reading in short sessions to really savour the concentrated force of each story.
PASHA MALLA: One thing I think we were all looking for was to be surprised. And I hope readers of this anthology will find surprises – whether in language, structure, voice, emotional oomph, or in the unexpected twists and turns of a well-told story.
AY: Absolutely – good fiction surprises us the way life does, which is odd, given how easily a story can fail by sticking to “what really happened.” I find the sweetest surprises are often the small ones, such as the moment in Lynne Kutsukake’s  “Mating” when the protagonist focuses on the whorl of greying hair at the crown of his wife’s head and feels “an inexplicable tenderness for this secret spot, a sudden urge to protect it with the palm of his hand.” Nothing like getting swept up in a character’s unexpected rush of love.
JT: It was remarkable to see what different stories two writers could produce on similar subjects – in the case of “Mating” and Carolyn Black’s “Serial Love,” a subject as specific as speed dating. “Mating” beautifully juxtaposes traditional Japanese cultural attitudes with contemporary dating practices, and “Serial Love” listens in on a first encounter between a man and woman and reveals menace in every word and gesture. It’s a story of such precisely balanced ambiguity that its possibilities surprise you with every reading.
PM: And then there were those stories that grab you by the throat from the first line. From their cracking openings on, every sentence of Damian Tarnopolsky’s “Laud We the Gods” and Mike Spry’s “Five Pounds Short and Apologies to Nelson Algren” is visceral, unsettling, uncompromising, and astonishing. Both are told in the sort of voice that needles its way into your brain and stays with you long after the story is over.
JT: I’ve come around to thinking that point of view is everything, how fully you inhabit it. Devon Code’s “Uncle Oscar,” for example, pleased me with every detail that fell under the alert eye of the thirteen-year-old protagonist: the upsidedown milk crate that served as a footstool in the basement tv room, a Sepultura T-shirt and an Ibanez guitar, the smell of the unbathed uncle (“a sweet smell like brown bananas”) – it’s Leo’s eye on ordinary stuff that aligns us entirely with his experience.
AY: Yes, and those same details often serve as evidence of an original mind at work. Among others, I’m thinking here of “The Dead Dad Game” by Laura Boudreau and “Ship’s Log” by Eliza Robertson, both of which deliver fresh, even startling, takes on the popular theme of childhood loss and grief.
PM: I think that sort of originality is what really set these twelve stories apart from the rest of the pack – which is saying something, as I don’t think there was a single one of the seventy-four submissions that wasn’t a solid, well-crafted piece of writing.
AY: I love the fact that the search for the “best writing” led us to such diverse styles: the mad aria of “Laud We the Gods” at one end of the spectrum; the haunting plainsong of Andrew Boden’s “Confluence of Spoors” at the other. So different from one another and so perfectly themselves.
JT: And, of course, to diverse worlds – it’s always a small miracle to find a world created whole within a short story. I was especially struck by writers who used settings we know and managed to disorient us by peeling back that sense of the familiar. “Confluence of Spoors” did it in a stroke, as a hunter follows a trail of blood into Vancouver’s East Side. Danielle Egan’s “Publicity” did it too, giving us a barely futuristic and surreal Vancouver.
PM: “Confluence of Spoors” is a good example of a story, too, that deserves and benefits from repeat readings. To me that’s the mark of a truly strong piece of short fiction: something that engages on the surface, but then, when you go back to it a second (and third) time, gets richer, more nuanced and layered. I feel the same way about “Ship’s Log,” which is immediately captivating and charming, but sneaks up on you emotionally; you finish, gutted, and want to go back and figure out what was really going on the whole time.
JT: Then of course there was our conversation the day the jury met to discuss the stories, which opened up all sorts of new meanings in the stories. “When in the Field with Her at His Back” is one of the stories that I thought especially rewards a second look. You’re aware of the buried past as a diplomat returns to postwar Eastern Croatia to look for an old lover. Revisiting this story, I realized how skilfully Ben Lof had knit his characters’ lives together through the image of unexploded landmines.
AY: I agree, the landmines worked beautifully – a perfect underlying symbol for a story about the fragmented, dissociative state so many suffer in the wake of war. I’m fascinated by the power of well-chosen objects in many of these narratives: the soggy picture of Marilyn Monroe in Andrew MacDonald’s coming-of-age piece, “Eat Fist!” (“I find her pulpy corpse floating in the drinking fountain.”); the perfectly creepy Curious George poster in “Five Pounds Short and Apologies to Nelson Algren.” And Pasha, I remember you brought up the impact of the tights-as-tourniquet in “The Longitude of Okay” by Krista Foss – devastating!
PM: Yeah, and also, in the same story, the belt used to secure the classroom door – there’s such power in the dramatic repurposing of everyday objects, imbuing them with sudden, unexpected narrative and emotional resonance. That sort of thing always sticks with me, and maybe speaks more broadly to what I often love in fiction: seeing the familiar cast in a new light.
JT: What moved me most about “The Longitude of Okay” were Krista Foss’s characters. This story, about a school shooting, could so easily have been contained and prescribed by its subject, but it became instead an insightful exploration of the teacher’s self-doubt. And the students are deftly drawn in a few strokes. They’re so real.
PM: The last thing I wanted to mention, and which we haven’t touched on, was humour. Being funny is so hard to do well, as it relies so much on surprising the reader, and “Uncle Oscar” and “Serial Love” have some killer lines that totally cracked me up. Devon Code’s thirteen-year-old narrator imagining cocaine to “feel like taking 500 dumps all at once” is so perfectly hilarious, and I laughed out loud a number of times at Carolyn Black’s wonderfully dry descriptions of speed dating.
AY: So often those moments that make us laugh (or cry, for that matter) occur when the writer has hit the nail on the head, getting a character’s voice, thought, or action exactly right. It’s perhaps the fundamental challenge of writing convincing, compelling fiction, this business of spinning people out of the air – a challenge that the contributors to this year’s edition of The Journey Prize Stories meet and exceed with style.

Table of Contents

Reading the 2010 Journey Prize Stories
A Conversation with Pasha Malla,
Joan Thomas, and Alissa York
Serial Love
(from Exile: The Literary Quarterly)
Confluence of Spoors
(from Vancouver Review)
The Dead Dad Game
(from PRISM international )
Uncle Oscar
(from The Malahat Review)
(from Vancouver Review)
The Longitude of Okay
(from Grain Magazine)
(from The Dalhousie Review)
When in the Field with Her at His Back
(from The Malahat Review)
Eat Fist!
(from EVENT)
Ship’s Log
(from The Malahat Review)
Five Pounds Short and Apologies to Nelson Algren
(from This Magazine)
Laud We the Gods
(from subTerrain Magazine)
About the Authors
About the Contributing Journals
Previous Contributing Authors
Various|Pasha Malla|Joan Thomas|Alissa York

About Various

Various - The Journey Prize Stories 22
JANE WERNER was one of the original editors of Little Golden Books. NIKKI SHANNON SMITH is an elementary school principal in California. CLEMENT C. MOORE wrote “The Night Before Christmas” for his children in 1822. SHEILAH BECKETT had a 60-year career with Golden Books, and illustrated The Nutcracker at age 99. J. P. MILLER illustrated many popular Little Golden Books from the 1940s through the 1970s, some by such notable writers as Margaret Wise Brown.

About Pasha Malla

Pasha Malla - The Journey Prize Stories 22
PASHA MALLA's The Withdrawal Method won the Trillium Award and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada/Caribbean), and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. A two-time Journey Prize finalist, he lives in Toronto.

About Joan Thomas

Joan Thomas - The Journey Prize Stories 22

Photo © Sam Baardman

Joan Thomas’s debut novel, Reading By Lightning, won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada/Caribbean) and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second, Curiosity, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the IMPAC award, and was a Quill and Quire Book of the Year. Joan was a longtime contributing reviewer for the Globe and Mail. She lives in Winnipeg. Visit her at www.joanthomas.ca

About Alissa York

Alissa York - The Journey Prize Stories 22

Photo © Curtis Latinga

Alissa York was born in 1970, in Athabasca, Alberta, to Australian immigrant parents. There, Alissa’s father taught high school English and outdoor education, and her mother taught part-time at the local elementary school and studied creative writing at the University of Alberta. Alissa has commented, “My imprint from that time is incredibly strong… I’m drawn to writing about people with their insides showing. There’s a boiling down of human experience in small towns.” In 1977, the family moved to Victoria, British Columbia. A decade later, Alissa graduated from high school and moved to Toronto, then on to Montreal, where she studied English Literature at McGill University.

After Alissa met her partner, writer/filmmaker Clive Holden, the couple travelled all over Canada, living in Toronto, Whitehorse, Montreal, Victoria and Vancouver (they were married in Victoria in the summer of 1993). Alissa feels these travels have helped her immensely when it comes to her writing and other projects: “Living in different places opens up your mind.” Along the way, she earned her living as a waitress, a florist and a bookseller. She also worked for a small theatre company while studying acting in Toronto, and appeared in theatre productions in Whitehorse before she discovered that writing was her passion.

Alissa published her first story in The New Quarterly in 1995. Her work continued to appear in various anthologies and literary journals, and in 1998 she and Clive founded Cyclops Press, an independent publishing company that specializes in literary multimedia titles by such writers as Al Purdy, Patrick Lane and Catherine Hunter. Alissa has co-edited several Cyclops Press titles and currently serves as Associate Editor.

Alissa York’s highly acclaimed first novel, Mercy, was published in 2003. Effigy was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She won the Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher for her short story collection, Any Given Power. Her stories have also won the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award, and in 2001 she won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. She has lived all over Canada, and now makes her home in Toronto.
Joan Thomas

Joan Thomas Events>

Joan Thomas - The Journey Prize Stories 22

Photo © Sam Baardman

4/9/2015 ImagiNation Writers Festival, Morrin Centre.
Quebec City, QC
7:30 pm
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5/20/2015 Incite, Alice McKay Room, Central Library.
Vancouver, BC
7:30 pm
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