Heather O'Neill wins Writers' Trust Fellowship in recognition of her spellbound narratives

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      Montreal novelist, essayist, and short-story author Heather O'Neill has won one of the most lucrative literary prizes in the country.

      At a gala last night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, she received the $50,000 Writers' Trust Fellowship.

      "I can think of any number of brilliant writers the 2019 Writers' Trust Fellowship could be given to in Canada and that they chose to bestow it on me makes me feel both humbled and honoured," O'Neill said. "It has also filled my heart with inexplicable glee."

      The award recognizes a writer of "exceptional creative ability and outstanding promise in their publications to date".

      "The Fellowship is intended to draw attention to a writer’s past work and to stimulate interest in their future work, but, most importantly, it is meant to provide recipients a window in which they can work on their next book with as much creative freedom as possible," the Writers' Trust of Canada states on its website.

      O'Neill is the author of Wisdom in Nonsense: Invaluable Lessons from My FatherLonely Hearts Hotel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, Daydream of Angels, and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.

      The jury citation described her as an "exquisite, masterful writer".

      "Her narratives are the closest modern Canadian fiction comes to books of spells, entrancing readers and transporting them into the lives of girls and women who always seem to exist on the cusp of love, of desire, of doom," the jury stated.

      "O'Neill's body of work has reimagined and translated the sacred and profane mythologies of Montreal to English readers for so long that her name and the city's have become as entwined as the lovers and siblings who orbit her female-centred worlds."

      She has already won CBC Canada Reads, the Paragraphe Huge MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and the Danuta Gleed Award. She's also been shortlisted twice for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

      Last month, O'Neill appeared at the 2019 Vancouver Writers Fest. She also spoke at Growing Room: A Feminist Literary Festival in Vancouver in March.

      Previous winners of the fellowship are Charles Foran, Eden Robinson, Miriam Toews, and Michael Crummey.

      The Writers' Trust was founded in 1976 by Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Graeme Gibson, Margaret Laurence, and David Young.