The J.I. Segal Award winner is ...
Just got news yesterday from ECW Press that I am the co-winner — with Montreal writer Beverly Akerman — of the 2012 J. I. Segal Award for English Fiction & Poetry on a Jewish Theme. The award is given every two years by the Jewish Public Library in Montreal. The book that brought me this honour is my novel Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew.
And J. I. Segal (1896-1954), incidentally, was a Yiddish-Canadian poet, and the awards in his name have been given out since 1968.
OK, the reason I am so thrilled about this is that I have always longed to be recognized as a Jewish writer, by some official Jewish entity. The only such entity that has done so in the past is the Vancouver Jewish Book Festival, which has brought me out west three times for reading and workshops. Those have been amazing events, every time.
I'm not a big award-winner: my writing is so goddamn weird. I was shortlisted in 2000 for the Trillium Book Award for my poetry collection Farmer Gloomy's New Hybrid — along with Alistair McLeod, David Layton, Elyse Friedman, and David Gilmour.
In 2010, I was a finalist for the fishy Alberta Readers' Choice Award for my story collection Buying Cigarettes for the Dog. I say fishy, because they started out by publicizing the number of votes each book received, and I was in front, and then they stopped publicly counting the votes; when the winner was announced, no vote count was publicized, and when I wrote them to ask about public accountability, they didn't even bother responding to me. Is it bad form for me to grouse about this? Probably. But I wanted that $10,000.
Anyway, later that year, I won the ReLit Prize for Short Fiction for Cigarettes, and I became one of the secret society of owners of the beautiful ReLit decoder ring at the ceremony in Ottawa. I had previously been shortlisted twice for the ReLit, for my poetry books I Cut My Finger and Dead Cars in Managua. The ReLit is a very cool award that goes only to books published by indie publishers.
My column "Hunkamooga," which appears in the Vancouver magazine sub-Terrain, has also been shortlisted twice — for a National Magazine Award and a BC Magazine Award.
Anyway, now I get to go to Montreal on November 14 and get my prize, which is half of $500, but more importantly is recognition that I'm a Jewish writer, sometimes writing on Jewish themes, even though I'm Ross instead of Razovsky and Stuart instead of Zalman (my Hebrew name).
Over and out.