The Malahat Review is pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the Jack Hodgins Founders’ Award for Fiction is Sarah L. Taggart of Vancouver, for her short story “Deaf,” which appeared in the Summer 2008 issue. Taggart’s award-winning story was chosen for this prestigious award by Steven Heighton.
Established in honour of the celebrated Victoria novelist’s contribution to Canadian letters and to the University of Victoria, the Jack Hodgins Founders’ Award for Fiction recognizes the excellence of The Malahat Review’s contributors by awarding a prize of $1000 to the author of the best short story or novella to have appeared in the magazine’s quarterly issues during the previous calendar year. The winner, to be chosen by an outside judge, will be announced annually just prior to the publication of The Malahat Review’s Spring issue.
Sarah L. Taggart, winner of the 2009 Jack Hodgins award. Photo by Stephen Harrison.
Of Taggart’s story, Heighton says “Blindness has been used so often as a moral metaphor in fiction that we forget that deafness is more to the point—words, spoken or written, are the distinctive currency of human exchange, and our failure to hear the words of others finally leads to more carnage than our failure to see. In Sarah L. Taggart’s story, deafness works as a metaphor of familial malfunction partly because of how well Taggart particularizes it through concrete detail nailed down in clear language (see the muting, anesthetic mask that “descends over [the child’s] face like a black toilet plunger” . . .!).
Scenes from the point of view of children are always a good test of a writer’s skill in the Zone of the Concrete, and it’s a test Taggart passes with pennants flying. Also—not incidentally—she has left us with a moving and true insight: “A family is designed to bear a continued series of hurts.” Those are words that hurt to hear, but which many readers, I think, will be grateful to have heard and to bear away with them.
We come away from a very good story a little less deaf.”
Sarah L. Taggart graduated from the University of Victoria’s writing program in 2007. She is now a Master of Publishing candidate at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
Photo by Darren Stone, Times Colonist.
Steven Heighton is the author of the novel Afterlands, which has appeared in six countries, was a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice, and was recently optioned for film. He has also published The Shadow Boxer (a Canadian bestseller and a Publishers’ Weekly Book of the Year), Flight Paths of the Emperor and The Address Book. His poems and stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including London Review of Books, The Malahat Review, Poetry, Tin House, Europe, Agni, Poetry London, and Best English Stories. Heighton has won several awards and has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Journey Prize, and Britain’s W.H. Smith Award. This winter he is the writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa.
Jack Hodgins was born in Comox on Vancouver Island in 1938, and raised in the logging community of Merville. After graduating from the University of British Columbia, he moved to Nanaimo, where he taught high school English until 1979. He has been a writer-in-residence at Simon Fraser University and the University of Ottawa, and taught fiction in the Department of Writing, University of Victoria, from 1983 to 2004. His first collection of stories, Spit Delaney’s Island (1976) established him as a presence in Canadian writing, bringing his distinctive perspective on Vancouver Island to readers in book after book. His third, The Resurrection of Joseph Bourne (1979), won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1980. His other books include The Honorary Patron (1987), Innocent Cities (1990), A Passion for Narrative: A Guide for Writing Fiction (1993), The Macken Charm (1995), Broken Ground (1998), and Damage Done By the Storm (2004). He is a recipient of the Eaton’s BC Book Award, the Gibson’s First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Literature Prize, the Canada-Australia Prize, the Terasen Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.
For more information about the Jack Hodgins Founders’ Award for Fiction and how you may support it through a donation, please email The Malahat Review.