Rita Bode and Jean Mitchell are the winners of the Gabrielle Roy Prize 2018 for their edited collection on L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s) published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.
The jury was composed of Alison Calder (University of Manitoba), Ian Rae (King’s College, Western University), and Andrea Cabajsky (Université de Moncton, President of the jury). The prize was awarded at a reception held by the Association for Canadian and Quebec literatures on the evening of June 1st in Vancouver.
The jury praised this well-curated collection of essays approaches the intersection of humanity and ‘nature’ from diverse and exciting perspectives. Although the individual essays come from a variety of fields, including (but not limited to) literature, animal studies, and law, the collection is both concise and coherent. These excellent analyses of familiar texts and figures provide new and useful insights into individual works and the larger field of ecocritical studies generally. L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s) illustrates what anyone familiar with the orchard in Anne of Green Gables already knows- -that Montgomery’s flair for pastoral writing is among her finest attributes as a serious writer. However, the conceptual underpinnings of the collection shed new light on how this relation between place and character is part of a more sophisticated ecology of beliefs and behaviours that are urgently needed in a world facing widespread environmental degradation, accelerating climate change, and mass extinctions of flora and fauna.
The jury would also like to congratulate the two other finalists in this year’s competition: Daniel Heath Justice for Why Indigenous Literatures Matter (Wilfrid Laurier University Press) and Michael A. Peterman for Delicious Mirth: The Life and Times of James McCarroll (McGill-Queen’s University Press).
Daniel Heath Justice’s rigorous but accessible study of North American Indigenous literatures makes a convincing argument for their importance to everyone. Stressing the need for individuals to restore and maintain meaningful relationships with the elements of the world around them, this book insists on making literary and personal connections that are both uncomfortable and joyful. It goes beyond advocating for a shift in the perception of Indigenous figures in literature, or the perception of Indigenous authors within contemporary canons and marketplaces, by also demonstrating the insights and ethical realignments produced by reading from an Indigenous perspective. With great patience, generosity, and humour, Justice illustrates a number of strategies readers can pursue to make this shift occur. Why Indigenous Literatures Matter is an important work that deserves a wide readership.”
The result of meticulous research over decades, Delicious Mirth illuminates both James McCarroll and the nineteenth-century literary and social contexts in which he moved. It marshals particular details in the service of a larger narrative of North American Irishness, suggesting the value of revisiting a prolific but now-forgotten literary figure. It also performs the surprising task of shedding new light on multiple genres: early Canadian poetry, early Canadian theatre history, and early Canadian political writing. Scholars interested in Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Susanna Moodie, Catharine Parr Traill, and other pre-Confederation literary figures will want to learn about the role that McCarroll played in Ontario’s cultural and political milieux.