Tuesday November 25, 2014

Weyburn author Lazurko wins WILLA literary award


Weyburn author Anne Lazurko’s first full-length novel, “Dollybird”, has been recognized with an award for historical fiction by the Women Writing the West organization in the United States.

The novel was awarded the WILLA Award for historical fiction, as part of the 16th annual WILLA Literary Awards for 2014.

“I’m quite excited about it. Coteau Books (her publisher) had entered the book for different awards; to win this one is very exciting because it’s based out of the States,” said Lazurko.

“I think even just exposure to that market is a great thing,” she added.

Women Writing the West is the annual presenter of this award, which is named in honour of Pulitzer Prize winning author Willa Cather. The awards are presented annually for outstanding literature featuring women’s stories set in the West.

“It’s a very Canadian story, so to be recognized in the States is really interesting. I recognize that literary critics and librarians are well-read, so to have won this award, I’m quite happy about that,” said Lazurko, adding the prestige of this award is significant, so she will make the effort to attend the conference.

The award will be presented during the 20th annual conference for the organization to be held on Oct. 16-19, in Golden, Colo.

Women Writing the West is a non-profit association of writers and other professionals writing and promoting the Women’s West.

Earlier, Lazurko was named as a finalist for the fiction prize at the Saskatchewan Book Awards.

Dollybird is the story of an unwed and pregnant young woman, Moira, set in 1906 in southern Saskatchewan; she was originally from the Maritimes and was banished to the prairies, where she is forced to find work as a “dollybird”, which was a housekeeper for a homesteader, a position that sometimes had negative connotations.

Lazurko will be appearing at the Word on the Street national book and magazine festival in Saskatoon, to be held on Sunday, Sept. 21, at the Muskoka Literary Festival on Oct. 3-5, a reading in Kingston, Ont., a writers festival in Swift Current, and then the WWW conference in Colorado.

Lazurko noted the Saskatoon festival, one of four across Canada, started out small four years ago, and is mostly a street festival with publishers and writers, from all different genres, fiction and non-fiction.

“I will be doing a program with Coteau author Allan Safarik, who was also nominated for a Saskatchewan Book Award. Our presentation will be about writing about the historical West,” said Lazurko.

Asked if she has been working on a second novel, she noted that project is coming along, but with the busy farming season, she expects she will be concentrating on it a lot more come the winter season.


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