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December 6, 2001 A host of Concordia finalists for Quebec Writers Federation awards



by Barbara Black

The Quebec Writers Federation held their annual prize-giving last week, and many Concordia writers were among the finalists.

The Translation Prize was won by Howard Scott and Phyllis Aronoff for The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701: French-Native Diplomacy in the Seventeenth Century (McGill-Queen’s University Press), a translation from the original French.

Scott has the distinction of being Concordia’s — and Canada’s — first master’s in women’s studies, back in 1984. He won the Governor-General’s Literary Award for English translation in 1997 for The Euguelion, by Louky Bersianik. He now works as a commercial publisher.

Linda Leith was also a finalist in the Translation category, for Travels with an Umbrella: An Irish Journey (Signature Editions), her rendering into English of Louis Gauthier’s Voyage en Irelande avec un parapluie. Leith has taught science fiction in Concordia’s English Department and is a prime mover of the successful Blue Metropolis literary festival.

Communication Studies professor Monika Kin Gagnon was up for the First Book Award, which was won by Gazette sports writer Jack Todd’s memoir The Taste of Metal: A Deserter’s Story.

Concordia’s Jason Camlot was up against stiff competition from McGill classics scholar Anne Carson, who previously won the lucrative MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” grant. Her collection, The Beauty of the Husband, took the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry.

Trevor Ferguson, writing as John Farrow, was a finalist for the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. Ferguson, a highly respected novelist who teaches creative writing at Concordia, won this award under his own name with The Timekeeper (Harper Collins), in 1994. Long respected by critics and his peers for his dramatic novels that draw on his early life in urban Montreal and on work gangs in the Canadian bush, Ferguson made a commercial breakthrough when he started writing taut thrillers under a pseudonym. City of Ice was a national bestseller, and sold more than 50,000 copies in Canada. This nomination was for his second thriller, Ice Lake, and a member of the jury said he or she would never pass an ice-fishing shack without wondering if there was a body inside.

Creative writing teacher Kate Sterns was also up for the MacLennan Prize, but it went to Yann Martel, for Life of Pi.

The QWF gala is a popular event, and has been held in recent years at the Lion d’Or, an old nightclub on Ontario St. E. It’s such an example of English-Quebec community spirit that it was being recorded by filmmaker Barry Lazar, of Concordia’s Journalism Department, for a French-language series on ethnic minorities in Quebec.