Canada's Hannah Moscovitch among winners of $150K literary prize

TORONTO -- Acclaimed Toronto-based playwright Hannah Moscovitch hasn't had much time to bask in the glory of her US$150,000 prize for literary achievement.

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On Tuesday, when Yale University announced Moscovitch as one of nine recipients of the lucrative Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes, she was battling a snowstorm in Toronto so she could get her eight-month-old baby to the doctor.

"It's been a little bit psychedelic. It's a bit delirious, actually," the 37-year-old said by phone late Tuesday afternoon.

"(I) came home and there was like 99-plus messages for me on Twitter and then I shut it down and went and had a nap with him, because we nap together every day.

"So I was lying there staring at the ceiling with my son. The juxtapositions are strange, for sure."

The Windham-Campbell Prizes honour three winners each for fiction, drama and non-fiction. Each winner receives a $150,000 grant.

Ottawa's Moscovitch was cited for drama. She was praised by the prize for "pushing herself with each subsequent work to deeper levels of emotional and intellectual complexity."

"It's the most astonishing validation," said the multiple Dora Award winner, who's known for heralded works including "East of Berlin" and "This is War."

"Because I freelance and I have absolutely no sense of what will happen in a year or two years, even a little sense of security can only embolden you and help your work to become more itself, to become more fully realized, because you feel a little safer."

Moscovitch said she had no idea she'd been nominated for the prize and found out she'd won a few days ago. She had to keep the victory to herself until the embargo lifted at midnight Tuesday morning.

"You get a call that feels like they've got to be lying to you," she said. "Like there's no way that someone wants to give you 150,000 American dollars. It just sounds so strange when someone calls you and says that."

The prize is worth just over C$200,000.

The other drama winners this year were Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Abbie Spallen.

Novelist and critic Stanley Crouch won for non-fiction, along with Hilton Als and Helen Garner.

In fiction, the winners were Tessa Hadley, C.E. Morgan and Jerry Pinto.

The prize was established in 2013 and named for the late novelist Donald Windham and his longtime partner Sandy M. Campbell.


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