The Writers' Trust of Canada has got itself a heck of a fiction contest this year. Last night, the five finalists read from their nominated works, and each one stole the show in their own way. Rivka Galchen was very endearing with her short reading, and funny, and allowed the brilliance of her first novel's concept to emerge organically. Rawi Hage was quite expectedly quiet, and intense, dark, and superb. Lee Henderson, whom I have seen read many, many times in Vancouver, wowed with his inventive, pithy language ("the burial mound was zitted with purple potatoes," and "the dog snouted for treats"). Patrick Lane floored me with a pitch-perfect account of a boy trying to commit suicide in a river, an account that could have ended with any of his fifteen finishing sentences and been brilliant. And Miriam Toews gave a virtuoso reading from the Troutmans, speeding through the jokes that by the time the audience laughed, we were gulping our chuckles back in the face of perfect pathos.
I'd love it if Lee won. But I seriously don't have a clue as to who's gonna take it.