Kelowna-based author and Okanagan College English professor, Alix Hawley, has been named one of the top five finalists in the Canada Writes – 2014 CBC Short Story Prize.
Her short story, Jumbo, is about the love a young girl has for an elephant at the zoo, and was inspired by a 19th-century photograph Hawley came across when she was working on her PhD in English Literature in England.
“There was little girl in the photo and she was staring straight into the camera with such a sharp expression on her face,” says Hawley. “She became the central figure of Jumbo and around her the story explores the hugeness of love and the difficulty children have dealing with emotion.”
This recognition marks the second time Hawley has been a finalist in the Canada Writes Short Story competition. She was in the top five in 2012 for her satirical story Tentcity about lost love during the 2003 Okanagan fire.
Most recently, she won CBC’s Canada Writes BloodLines short-story writing contest in December 2013 for Pig (for Oma).
Hawley is humbled by all the attention her work is getting.
“I am grateful, delighted and surprised,” she says. “It’s nice, if a little disconcerting, to think that more people might be reading my work. It’s especially nice that short fiction is getting attention as well, because it’s a genre I love.”
Other writing credits for Hawley include a short-story collection, The Old Familiar, (2008), and a novel, entitled All True Not a Lie In It, that is scheduled to be published in early 2015 by Knopf / Random House Canada. In addition, she was recently named Knopf’s New Face of Fiction for 2015.
There were 3,200 stories from across the country submitted in this year’s Canada Writes Short Story competition. The winner will be announced March 24 and, in addition to a cash prize of $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will receive a two-week residence at The Banff Centre and have their story published in enRoute magazine.
To read Alix Hawely’s contest entry, Jumbo, and to find out more about Canada writes, visit www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/literaryprizes/shortstory.