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A professor in Okanagan College’s distinguished English faculty is now among 10 English-language finalists for the coveted CBC Canada Writes Short Story prize.
Dr. Alix Hawley, who grew up in Kelowna, is up for the prize for her short story Tentcity, a satirical tale of lost love set against the backdrop of the 2003 Okanagan Fire.
Her work was selected from more than 3,750 short stories submitted from across the country.
“I was utterly astonished when I heard the news,” said Hawley. “I’ve entered for the last few years and I just threw this one in. It never occurred to me this story would end up in the top 10.”
Hawley said it is encouraging to see so many writers embracing the short story genre – particularly when there are some who still consider the novel to be the more “noble” literary calling, despite the international acclaim of Canadian luminaries like Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant.
“We keep writing the short stories, and it’s nice to think there are more people out there willing to read them,” said Hawley, who enjoys paying homage to John Cheever with her exploration of modern suburbia.
The announcement came just a few weeks after Hawley learned she had made the longlist, along with her colleague – another Okanagan College English professor – Dr. Sean Johnston.
“It was so good to see Sean’s name there too. He’s such a brilliant writer.”
Writers from B.C. performed exceptionally well in this year’s event, making up half of those on the short list for the short story contest.
Each of the entries are being rolled out daily for readers on the CBC Radio Canada Writes website, with Hawley scheduled to appear Thursday, March 8. Readers are being invited to vote for their favourite story beginning March 19, with the winner to be announced March 26.
Hawley completed her Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in English Literature at UBC, with a minor in nineteen-century interdisciplinary studies. She went on to Oxford University where she completed a Master of Studies in Research Methods in English and a Doctor of Philosophy degree. While in England, she also received an M.A. in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.
To follow the contest, and read Hawley’s entry, visit www.cbc.ca/canadawrites.