A book by Peterborough theatre artist and writer Kate Story has been named a finalist for the 2022 Governor General’s Literary Awards.
The Canada Council for the Arts announced the 70 finalists in 14 categories in English and French on Wednesday (October 12), with Story’s young adult novel Urchin one of the five finalists in the English language young people’s literature category.
As a finalist, Story receives $1,000. The winners of each category, to be announced on November 16, will each receive $25,000, with the publisher of each winning book receiving $3,000 to promote the book.
Published in fall 2021 by Running the Goat Books and Broadsides, Urchin is a historical fantasy set in early 20th-century Newfoundland that tells the tale of 13-year-old Dorthea, who adopts a new identity as a boy named Jack to go undercover and investigate the activities of Italian scientist Marconi, who has arrived in St. John’s to receive the first wireless trans-Atlantic radio signal. The story also delves into the relationship between Dor and her mother, Dor’s love for her friend Clare, and mysterious fairies known as the Little Strangers.
In a 2021 interview with Lynette Adams for CBC News, Story credits Marnie Parsons of Running the Goat for the initial motivation for Urchin.
“She said, very specifically, she wanted me to write young adult fantasy, set in Newfoundland, historical, with fairies, and I was thrilled,” said Story, who spent her childhood in St. John’s in the 1970s. “I think I took a lot from my own life and transplanted it back 70 years, to be Dor.”
“(I) never thought I’d see the day when a book featuring a misfit genderqueer kid from the Southside Road would be a finalist for a big award,” Story wrote on Facebook after finding out Urchin was named a Governor General’s Literary Award finalist.
Story has little time to bask in the glow of her latest accomplishment, however. Not only is she director, dramaturge, and project manager for Sarah McNeilly’s sold-out Titty Cakes: A Recipe for Radical Acceptance running from October 19th to 23rd, but her own new performance piece Anxiety is set to premiere at The Theatre On King for a seven-performance run beginning November 24th.
Presented by Public Energy Performing Arts, Anxiety is Story’s retelling of the Old English epic poem Beowulf. She skilfully weaves the poem into a humorous, poignant, and honest exploration of her own story growing up the as daughter of a famed Newfoundland lexicographer.
Story’s father George, who passed away in 1994, pioneered the study of Newfoundland history, culture, language, and literature, including through his work on the Dictionary of Newfoundland English.
In Anxiety, Story examines the history of the English language and the roots of white supremacy as she seeks to understand her place in a modern world seemingly gone mad.
For more information about Anxiety and for tickets, visit publicenergy.ca/performance/anxiety/.