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Recipient of the Gabrielle Roy Prize 2012

Keavy Martin

Stories in a New Skin: Approaches to Inuit Literature, published by the University of Manitoba Press

The Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2012 Gabrielle Roy Prize (English Section), which each year honours the best work of Canadian literary criticism published in English, has been awarded to Keavy Martin for Stories in a New Skin: Approaches to Inuit Literature, published by the University of Manitoba Press. The book was chosen by a jury composed of Cecily Devereux (University of Alberta), Cynthia Sugars (University of Ottawa), and Linda Warley (University of Waterloo), from among eighteen books submitted for this year’s prize.

The jury members recognized the book as a groundbreaking study of Inuit literature.  Martin has attended to Indigenous authors and critics who have for decades argued that their literature should be analyzed on its own terms, according to tribal and community perspectives and in keeping with Indigenous knowledges. Martin brings a sophisticated approach to Inuit stories by recognizing how both tradition and adaptation have shaped them. Stories in a New Skin radically shifts academic understandings about the nature and location of knowledge.  In the view of the entire committee, Stories in a New Skin is not about expanding familiar canons, but about changing the ways we read.

The jury would also like to congratulate the two shortlisted finalists in this year’s competition: Sandra Djwa for Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page (McGill-Queen’s UP), and Tanis MacDonald for The Daughter’s Way: Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies (Wilfrid Laurier UP).  Sandra Djwa’s biography of P.K. Page builds on her already considerable reputation as one of the best literary biographers in Canada. Having had exclusive access to P.K. Page herself, as well as to her extensive personal and archival papers, Djwa has been able to bring precise attention to the life and career of this most important Canadian poet and artist. Djwa’s biography will be the definitive work upon which all future students of Page’s work will draw.  Tanis MacDonald’s The Daughter’s Way represents a new way of understanding Canadian women’s poetic elegies. Ranging widely across twentieth- and twenty-first century Canadian women’s texts, the study provides a compelling and precisely focused engagement with gender, genre, and nation.  MacDonald (herself a poet) brings a rich understanding of the importance of poetic form. She produces insightful analyses in prose that is crystal clear and a pleasure to read, making readers engage with the evocative power of the “literary” all over again.