Wednesday, November 21, 2012

QWF Awards: 2012

The QWF does such excellent awards banquets: last night they proved the rule with their 2012 awards banquet, held at Lion d'Or on Ontario (which host Josh Freed had couldn't help noting as a sign of how far Anglophones are willing to extend into Francophone territory to exert our waning influence). A few highlights:

Rawi Hage won for Carnival which wasn't a surprise. His books balance urban grit with his idiosyncratic humor and quirkiness. No doubt his books will stand the test of time (his book DeNiro's Game from 2006 continues to loom large over our city as a literary capital). I am glad that Hage took home the prize (and his speech was charming and adorable) but I was also disappointed that I didn't get a chance to see Anita Rau Badami up on stage, an author I adore. Also, I haven't read Hage's Carnival yet so I didn't have a connection to the work in a way I should have.

Taras Grescoe won for Straphanger, a book that I found absolutely riveting. Full disclosure: I was on the jury for this prize, so I am hardly objective (and there will several excellent and worthy books on our long list)  but Grescoe's book has altered the way I look at cars and cities. When certain journalists or writers in Montreal gripe about this road construction project impeding traffic or that new freeway exit ramp, I can just shrug and be thrilled that they're problems I never have to deal with (and I pay absolutely no attention to the price of gas). More than that, the book traces the history of the car on various cities around the world and makes one SEE cities in a new light. I suspect that in 25 years we will look back and know that Grescoe's book was the beginning of the end for the dominant role that the car has played in city life (though that said: even Grescoe admits that cars are important in certain places and at certain times).

Alice Petersen won the Concordia First Book Prize for her short-story collection All the Voices Cry, an excellent collection which contains several lovely little gems. Oana Avasilichioaei won the AM Klein Poetry Prize for her collection We, Beasts.

But the most heart-warming moment all night was when Eric Fontaine won the Cole Translation Prize for his translation of Doug Harris's (excellent) You Comma Idiot (titled T'es con, point). Fontaine's eyes were teary as he got on stage and his list of thank yous was funny, moving and entertaining. He is an excellent storyteller himself, it seems...

And a great evening was had by all!


  1. I wish I'd known you were there, to say hi!

    Also, I really want to read You Comma Idiot after hearing the excerpt (twice)...

    1. Definitely read Doug's book because it's so Montreal and so funny. And Eric's translation really captures the language and tone of the book (not easy, either, because the tone is quite distinct).

      I was thinking later that I didn't see you running around there. Ah, we'll meet soon, I expect...