CBC Books, CBC’s online home for literary content, together with its partners, the Canada Council for the Arts and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, today announced the winner of the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize.
Jonathan Poh of Burnaby, B.C., has won the grand prize for his story Value Village. The story was selected from more than 1700 works received from across the country and is available to read at CBCBooks.ca.
As the grand-prize winner, Poh will receive $6000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and his story will be published on CBCBooks.ca. He will also receive a two-week writing residency at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
The jury was composed of writers Yasuko Thanh, Bill Gaston and Robyn Doolittle, who said:
“What does putting on the costume of a new country mean? Wanting to fit in is a common need for adolescents. It’s a way to be accepted. It’s a way to be cool. But for many kids, it’s a form of camouflage in a hostile environment. This painfully entertaining coming-of-age story walks a weighty path through immigration, racism, class and bullying. Value Village is a beautifully written story told with wisdom, heart and, always, a gently biting humour.”
This entry is the first Poh has submitted to the CBC Literary Prizes. When asked why he decided to enter Value Village in the CBC Nonfiction Prize, he wrote, “I wasn’t confident about entering the competition so I procrastinated, wavered between entering and not entering, and nearly missed the deadline. But in the end, I knew this was a story I needed to push myself to tell. I was fortunate enough to still have time before the deadline (and copious notes on my iPhone), and I spent the next four days writing and rewriting several drafts in a frenzy, one of which became Value Village. I’m not sure if I even slept, but it was all worth it! In a strange and difficult year, my first submission to the CBC Nonfiction Prize is an accomplishment I will cherish forever.”
CBC Books also announced Isabelle Lapointe as the winner of the French grand prize for Dédé. More information is available at ICI.Radio-canada.ca/icionlit under “Prix du récit.”
The four runners-up for the CBC Nonfiction Prize, each receiving $1000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, are: Joseph Kakwinokanasum of White Rock, B.C. for Ray Says; Amy MacRae of Vancouver for Take a Photo Before I Leave You; Rachael Preston of Nanaimo, B.C. for The Story Teller; and Leona Theis of Saskatoon for Sturnella Neglecta (Overlooked Little Starling).
For more information on the CBC Literary Prizes, visit CBCBooks.ca.