Tamàs Dobozy wins the 2012 Rogers Writers' Trust Award
November 14, 2012
by Kevin Burns
After winning this year’s Rogers Writers’ Trust award for fiction, Tamàs Dobozy was declared in the press “a surprise favourite” to also win the Governor General’s Literary Award for his book: Siege 13. This is his fictional exploration of the Red Army’s siege of Budapest in December 1944, in the closing stages of the Second World War. Through thirteen interlinked stories Dobozy addresses the complex legacy of the siege decades later, not only in Hungary but also in Europe and Canada.
Dobozy was described in the same article in the Globe and Mail as a rule-breaking writer whose focus on short stories takes him in the opposite direction of most multinational publishing houses that prefer novels and have little or no interest in short stories. Dobozy explained that this is an intentional decision based on his commitment to the art of writing short fiction.
Despite the speculative musing in the press, this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction, announced yesterday, has gone to Linda Spalding for The Purchase, her novel about a shunned Quaker, slavery, race, and religion.
Tamàs Dobozy teaches in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. His work has appeared in international literary journals, including Granta, and he has produced two collections of short fiction: “When X Equals Marylou” and “Last Notes and Other Stories.” In 2009 Dobozy was awarded the first Fulbright Research Chair in Creative Writing at New York University. His story, “The Restoration of the Villa Where Tibor Kallman Once Lived” won the 2011 O’Henry Prize for short fiction.
In a 2007 interview on this website, Dobozy described his experiences as someone born Hungary and raised in Canada and his sense being an outsider in both cultures. “Home is an odd concept, of course, for someone in my situation, because I never felt as if I fit very well into either country - Hungary or Canada. I think that’s a metaphor for a lot of things in my writing, and maybe even for the writing itself, which flits between various genres,” he said. In the same interview Dobozy identified this sense of dislocation as something that has helped him as a writer because it gave him a “sense of floating between specific boundaries and specific affiliations and specific experiences. I'm not trying to escape labels - I am a Canadian writer - but I think they’re most useful when they open on experience rather than reduce it. This seems to me the general task of the writer: to create openings, places of uncertainty, ruptures in knowledge.”
Last week, Dobozy received the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize at a ceremony in Toronto and also received $2,500 for being shortlisted along with the other Writers’ Trust Award finalists: Tim Bowling, for The Tinsmith (Brindle & Glass Publishing); Rawi Hage, for Carnival (House of Anansi Press); Alix Ohlin, for Inside (House of Anansi Press); and Linda Spalding, for The Purchase (McClelland & Stewart).
Joining Dobozy on the shortlist for this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction in English were Robert Hough, for Dr. Brinkley’s Tower (House of Anansi Press); Vincent Lam, for The Headmaster’s Wager (Doubleday Canada); and Carrie Snyder, for The Juliet Stories (House of Anansi Press).
Coming soon on this site: a new in-depth interview with Tamàs Dobozy about Siege 13 and what’s next for this award winning author.
And click here for more on the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.