Beneath the Softness of Snow, by Chanel M. Sutherland, has won the 2022 CBC Short Story Prize.
Besides receiving $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Vincentian-born, Montreal based marketing director and writer will also attend a residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sutherland moved to Canada when she was 10 years old. She wrote Beneath the Softness of Snow because she wanted to portray the first moments of a new mother living in a foreign country, one that seemed hostile to her.
Sutherland’s winning story was published by CBC Books.
Sutherland has now won the CBC Literary Prize twice; she also won the CBC Nonfiction Prize for her story, Umbrella, in 2021.
“When I first learned that I won, I could not believe it. I have followed the CBC Short Story Prize since I was 19 and winning was always this distant dream. To receive this news was a very surreal and emotional moment,” Sutherland told CBC Books.
“I wrote this story because I found myself thinking so much about my mother’s experience. For many years, I was thinking about how I felt when my mother moved away from St. Vincent and I was left with my grandparents,” said Sutherland.
In a statement, the jury said, “Beneath the Softness of Snow is a story about attachment, detachment, and painful choices, featuring a woman who leaves her children to care for the children of her employer. It takes a lot of courage to write in the second person, but here the effect is intimacy, and the reader feels a sense of complicity with the reality of privilege.”
Lee Yan is a journalist based in Cebu, Philippines. For the past 10 years, he has worked in the media and writes part-time for the St. Vincent Times.