Telegram editorial page editor Russell Wangersky was presented with the $25,000 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award at a ceremony in Halifax Saturday evening.
Russell Wangersky. — Telegram file photo
Wangersky won the prize, administered by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, for “Whirl Away,” his latest collection of short stories. The book was shortlisted for the 2012 Giller Prize as well as the BMO Winterset Award earlier this year, and three of the stories have been optioned for film and are being re-written as screenplays.
“A lot of people say this, but a shortlist is almost more important,” Wangersky said. “When a shortlist is announced, you know you’re in some fine company. The winner ends up being subjective; a personal decision by the judges. That being said, I’m absolutely delighted.”
Wangersky is currently taking some time away from The Telegram’s offices, working on his newest novel, “Walt,” scheduled for publication in the fall of 2014.
“It’s about a very, very nasty man,” he has said. “I got the idea by collecting grocery notes in stores. The notes tell you a lot about people and what they eat, but a lot of times they’re written on Mastercard bills, mortgage statements, mail send-outs from a political party which lists the information of everyone living in the household.”
Wangersky has also recently completed the first draft of a new collection of short stories. He plans to use the Raddall award money in the way it was intended, he said.
“The interesting thing about this prize is it was set up by Thomas Head Raddall to provide enough money to give writers enough time to write,” he explained. “His son has continued it, and has increased the award substantially for that reason. I’m hoping it will actually do that. How it will pan out, I don’t know.”
Local poet George Murray had been nominated for another of the writers’ federation awards — the Atlantic Poetry Prize for his book “Whiteout” — but the award was given to Lesley Choyce of Halifax for “I’m Alive. I Believe in Everything.”
Carole Glasser Langille was also a finalist for the award, for “Church of the Exquisite Panic: The Ophelia Poems.”
The Evelyn Richardson Memorial Non-Fiction Award was presented to Steven Laffoley of Halifax for “Shadowboxing: The Rise and Fall of George Dixon.” Other finalists were Jerry Lockett for “The Discovery of Weather” and Herb MacDonald for “Cape Breton Railways: An Illustrated History.”