Short fiction has been dubbed the writer’s genre, for the way it allows writers to focus on diction, style, character, and experimentation more than plot. A great genre deserves its own award, and as of this year, The Atlantic Book Awards include “The Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction.” Unsurprisingly, given our penchant for the genre, a Newfoundlander, Catherine Hogan-Safer, has won the award for Wild Pieces.
Wild Pieces is biting, fresh, and as funny as the best joke you’ve heard all month. Its stories are lively and stylistically distinct in their unadorned, yet evocative sentence-level language. Her stories are propelled by the kind of St. John’s “characters” who give St. John’s its character.
Hogan-Safer is a rare treat to read because of the vivacity of her characters and the punch and hook of her humour and humanity. Her characters are crackling with life and do unexpected things. Jane — the freebie hunter — was surprisingly unenthused about winning a trip. Who wants the hassle of having to get a passport?
This is vibrant fiction, and she manages to be funny even in the stories that are dark and sad, creating a unique read you’ll not be accustomed to or bored by. To win, she beat out Atlantic literary giant Mark Anthony Jarman (Knife Party at the Hotel Europa) and Carole Glasser Langille’s I Am What I Am Because You Are What You Are.
Robert Mellin’s Winter in Tilting: Slide Hauling in a Newfoundland Outport Also Came Home with an ABA
Robert Mellin’s Winter in Tilting: Slide Hauling in a Newfoundland Outport took home the “Best Atlantic-Published Book Award.” It was shortlisted alongside another local book: Racket: New Writing Made in Newfoundland.