‘The Strangers’ Gallery’ named 2013 BMO Winterset Award winner

Tara Bradbury
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Paul Bowdring’s historical novel uses Newfoundland as setting for latest works

An historical novel set in modern times: Paul Bowdring’s novel “The Strangers’ Gallery” braids the lives of an archivist, a Newfoundland patriot and a Dutchman who comes to St. John’s, searching for the father he never knew.

Paul Bowdring was announced as the winner of the 2013 BMO Winterset Award for the his book “The Strangers Gallery” at a ceremony at Government House in St. John’s Thursday. The award celebrates excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador writing. —Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

The novel earned Bowdring $10,000 Thursday afternoon, when he was named the winner of the 2013 BMO Winterset Award.

Bowdring beat fellow finalists Lisa Moore (whose novel “Caught” was shortlisted for this year’s Giller Prize) and poet Carmelita McGrath (“Escape Velocity”) for the award, which saw 25 entries submitted from publishers across the country, spanning fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama and children’s book genres.

To be eligible, books must have been published in 2013 and written by Newfoundland and Labrador authors, either native or resident.

Thanking his wife and daughter “for giving my writing space diplomatic immunity” in their home, Bowdring accepted his prize during a ceremony at Government House in St. John’s.

“I’m very honoured, because I’ve read both their books and I thought they were very, very fine books,” Bowdring told The Telegram after the ceremony.

“For a jury to decide between poetry and fiction is a very difficult thing, as well.”

This year’s jury consisted of playwright Ruth Lawrence and poet Agnes Walsh.

Bowdring, a native of Bell Island, is a founding member of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador. He has written two other novels prior to “The Strangers’ Gallery”: “The Roncesvalles Pass” and “The Night Season.” He has recently completed the first draft of his fourth novel.

The BMO Winterset Award, in its 14th year, was founded by journalist and author Richard Gwynn in memory of his wife, author and historian Sandra Fraser Gwynn.

“People who get forgotten here are the readers, and they’re the most important part,” Gwynn said.

“No readers, no writing. For me, one of the joys of this is Newfoundland is probably the province where more people care about the writing of their province, learn about themselves through the writing, and are involved in the whole process.”


Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Government House, The Telegram, Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Bell Island

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Recent comments

  • Judy Bowdring -Lake -McClarin
    March 22, 2014 - 20:19

    Awesome Paul :) Soo proud of you cousin. Judy