Montreal writer Heather O'Neill, author of Wisdom in Nonsense: Invaluable Lessons from my Father (UAP), was the recipient of this year's $50,000 Writers' Trust Fellowship at a gala ceremony on Thursday night.
“It’s a romantic notion to think of the writer suffering in a garret in dirty clothes, eating mouldy bread, and confessing their sins to a pet rat named Melancholy. But in tHeather O’Neillruth, financial support means so much to writers and allows them to create the arduous and time-consuming works of fiction they do,” O'Neill said during her acceptance speech. “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. It also has filled my heart with inexplicable glee. So much so that I will rename my pet rat Delight.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Heather O’Neill into the exceptional circle of Writers’ Trust Fellows,” said Mary Osborne, executive director, Writers’ Trust. “She’s a dazzling talent with a brilliant imagination who writes like no one else. We hope that the $50,000 cheque that comes with this Fellowship will provide support as Heather works on her next book, and that the recognition will further advance her highly acclaimed career. We are excited to see what comes next.”
The Writers' Trust Gala, a black-tie fundraiser held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, was attended by more than 400 guests, including 40 guest authors. In addition to the cash prize, the recipient is also invited to a two-week, self-directed residency at the Leighton Artists' Colony at The Banff Centre. O'Neill joins the ranks of past recipients including Michael Crummey, Miriam Toews, Eden Robinson, and Charles Foran. The prize is given annually to a Canadian author who has demonstrated exceptional creative ability and outstanding promise in their publications to date.
A past winner of CBC Canada Reads, The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and the Danuta Gleed Award, O'Neill has previously been shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction, The Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her past novels include the critically-acclaimed The Lonely Hearts Hotel, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, and Lullabyes for Little Criminals (HarperCollins Canada).
For more information about the Writers' Trust Fellowship, visit writerstrust.com/fellowship.