Holy cow. My story, “Chemical Valley,” first published in The Fiddlehead, has been named as a finalist for the Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize! The story is up against Lisa Foad’s “Hunting” and Jessica Johns’ “Bad Cree.” I’m looking forward to reading both those stories, and all the other finalists, when I get my hands on The Journey Prize Stories 32. The winner will be announced on October 21, during an online Writers’ Trust event.
Here’s what the jury had to say about my story:
“In David Huebert’s ‘Chemical Valley,’ the narrator’s remarkable voice is laced with dark humour while displaying a tremendous depth of feeling as he cares for his dying partner and navigates a dangerous workplace replete with unpleasant coworkers. This is a complex story about love, death, and grief set in a contemporary Canadian community plagued by petrochemical-induced diseases and environmental ruin. The attention to language is so meticulous that tragedy is imbued with an aura of beauty. Each exquisite sentence in ‘Chemical Valley’ produces a sense of wonderment as the narrative crescendos to its harrowing conclusion.”
— 2020 Journey Prize Jury (Amy Jones, and Doretta Lau, and Téa Mutonji)
I feel enormously fortunate, and I’ve got many people to thank. First, I’m hugely grateful to all the hard-working staff and volunteers at The Fiddlehead, where this story was first published, and particularly to Fiction Editors Mark Anthony Jarman, Clarissa Hurley, and Gerard Beirne, and to Editor Sue Sinclair. I’m also hugely thankful to The Writers’ Trust of Canada, McClelland & Stewart, and Editor Anita Chong for making the Journey Prize happen and giving an opportunity to young writers. I’m also grateful to James A. Michener, who inaugurated the award by donating the Canadian royalties of his 1988 novel, Journey.
This whole thing is a big deal for me as “Chemical Valley” is the title story of a new collection I’ve been working on for some time now. Getting closer and closer to book meets world–can’t wait!