On Greg Brown’s 35th birthday this spring he received an unexpected present from the Writers’ Trust of Canada and the McClelland and Stewart publishing company: a nomination for the $10,000 Journey Prize for emerging Canadian writers.
“It was kind of a delicious birthday surprise,” the Nanaimo writer said.
On Aug. 7, the Writers’ Trust and McClelland and Stewart announced the 12-person longlist for the annual award, which honours the up-and-coming writer with the previous year’s best short story first published in a Canadian literary journal. Brown is the only writer to have two stories nominated for the award, but he’s not sure that means his chances are twice as good.
“Yeah, I don’t know if that’s quite how it works but it is exciting two have two stories in the anthology,” he said.
The stories are Bear, a “playful, surrealist” tale about a couple living inside a mechanical bear, and Love, a “sombre” drama about a death in a family. Both stories were published in the Vancouver journal Pulp Literature.
Brown says he feels like he’s on a bit of a roll, as earlier this year he won a writing prize through UBC’s creative writing journal Prism International, but he said he’s keeping his recent success in perspective.
“On some level I’m also aware of the fact that a lot of this is pretty fleeting and I kind of just want to enjoy the excitement of it now without worrying about really where it could go or not go, as the case may be,” he said.
All 13 nominated stories will appear in the anthology The Journey Prize Stories 30. Brown said that’s an honour in itself.
“Truthfully, the writers who have been featured in the story anthology are some of the writers who I’ve looked up to for almost my entire reading life, so it feels impossible, unreal and just totally thrilling,” he said.
The other writers up for the award are Shashi Bhat, Alicia Elliott, Liz Harmer, Philip Huynh, Jason Jobin, Aviva Dale Martin, Rowan McCandless, Sofia Mostaghimi, Jess Taylor, Iryn Tushabe and Carly Vandergriendt.
The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 12 and the winner will be named at the Writers’ Trust Awards in Toronto on Nov. 7.