MARJORIE CELONA CONFESSES TO BEING JUST A LITTLE STUNNED when it was announced that she had won the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. “I don’t think I moved for an entire minute—a complete ‘deer in the headlights’ moment,” she wrote in an e-mail in the days after the award presentation. “I am so honoured and thrilled and surprised. It gives me hope that these endless hours of writing have been meaningful and will continue to be.”
Celona’s short story, Othello, works with themes of loneliness and growing up. It is also, according to the award’s judges, “a gift, a world created and presented perfectly.”
The award was presented Jan. 16 in a posh 40th-floor suite in the Royal Bank headquarters in downtown Toronto. “Michelle Berry (novelist and daughter of retired UVic English Prof. Ed. Berry) stood at the podium and read out a description of my story that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Berry was part of the judges’ panel that found Othello to have “the mark of a mature and experienced writer. An autistic boy and his depressed father create a powerful frame around this coming of age story. The non-linear writing is bare and raw—an entire life summed up in so few pages.”
The Wallace award, with a $5,000 prize from the RBC Foundation, is for Canadian writers under 35 who haven’t been published in a book. Celona completed her undergraduate studies in the Department of Writing in 2006 and is midway through her master’s degree at the Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa.
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